Fadnavis gives in.

Fadnavis gives in.

Maha drama ends with egg on BJP face; Fadnavis quits, Uddhav to be next CM

NCP's Jayant Patil and Congress party's Balasaheb Thorat will be deputies

Agency Report | Mumbai/New Delhi | 26 November, 2019 | 09:30 PM

More than a month of high drama came to a close finally with the prodigal Pawar returning to the family and party fold of Maratha strongman and wily politician Sharad Pawar and quitting as the deputy CM to BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis. Once the younger Pawar chickened out after the Supreme Court ordered a floor test within 24 hours, Fadnavis had no choice to also resign as CM. The three-party combine then went on to name Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as the leader of the alliance and the CM candidate.

Leaders of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress will meet Maharashtra Governor BS Koshyari to stake claim to form the government in the state. They will approach the Governor after a meeting, called by the three allies in Mumbai, comes to an end. At the meeting, a resolution proposing Uddhav Thackeray’s name as the chief ministerial candidate and leader of the ‘Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi’ was passed unanimously by all the MLAs. “The three representatives of the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ will meet the Governor today. The swearing-in ceremony will be held at Shivaji Park, Mumbai, on December 1,” said NCP Chief Sharad Pawar.

Sources in the Congress said that Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray will be the chief minister and the NCP’s Jayant Patil and Congress party’s Balasaheb Thorat will be his deputies. The new MLAs will take oath 8 am onward on Wednesday when the new Legislative Assembly is sworn in by Pro-tem Speaker Kalidas Kolambkar. The development came after Devendra Fadnavis tendered his resignation as chief minister, hours after his deputy and NCP leader Ajit Pawar quit. Earlier, the Supreme Court mandated a floor test on Wednesday.

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has convened a special Assembly session on Wednesday at 8 am even as the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine is set to stake claim to form the government with Uddhav Thackeray as its leader.

“Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has called a special session of the legislative assembly on Wednesday. The session would begin at 8 am for the oath-taking ceremony of the 288 members. Following the oath, the pro-tem speaker will call for a floor test,” an official said.

The oath will be administered by newly-appointed pro-tem speaker Kalidas Kolambkar, who was appointed by Governor Koshyari on Tuesday evening on the directions of the Supreme Court which ordered a floor test on Wednesday.

After the fall of the three-day-old Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra, leaders of the Sena-NCP-Cong combine met at a suburban hotel in Mumbai to thrash out their moves ahead of the governor inviting them to form the next government.

The three parties finalised their Common Minimum Programme after the joint meeting, sources said.

“Today evening there will be a joint press conference of the three (Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP) parties and a meeting. In the meeting leader of the joint legislative party will be elected, I think Uddhav ji will be elected”, Congress leader KC Venugopal said.

Meanwhile, Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that party supremo Uddhav Thackeray will be the Chief Minister for the next five years. There were reports that Uddhav will induct two deputies – Balasaheb Thorat of Congress and Jayant Patil of NCP.

Earlier in the day, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said he was resigning as the chief minister after Ajit Pawar, who had offered him support, decided to leave the alliance, a day before the floor test ordered by the Supreme Court.

At a press meet, Fadnavis said he had formed the government because the people’s mandate was in favour of the BJP alliance. He avoided staking a claim initially because the Shiv Sena, his ally, had refused to support him. But when Ajit Pawar offered support, he decided to form the government and fulfil the mandate that had been given to his party.

Fadnavis blamed the Sena-NCP-Congress alliance of being opportunistic and said their Common Maximum Programme was to keep the BJP out of power.

Describing immediate floor test as the most effective tool to ward off horse-trading, the Supreme Court ordered a floor test on Wednesday in the Maharashtra assembly through open voting.
A bench headed by Justice NV Ramana said it is imperative for Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to prove majority on the floor of the House before he continues.

“In a situation wherein, if the floor-test is delayed, there is a possibility of horse-trading, it becomes incumbent upon the Court to act to protect democratic values. An immediate floor-test, in such a case, might be the most effective mechanism to do so,” said the bench also including Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna.

Issuing the interim directives on the petition filed jointly by Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP, the bench said the Protem Speaker shall administer the oath of office to all the members of the House by 5 pm on Wednesday.

“Immediately thereafter, the Protem Speaker shall conduct the floor-test in order to ascertain whether the Respondent No. 3 (Fadnavis) has the majority, and these proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with the law,” ordered the bench.

It added: “The floor-test will not be conducted by secret ballot. The proceedings have to be live telecast, and appropriate arrangements are to be made to ensure the same.”

The bench also rejected a submission made by Fadnavis’ lawyer Mukul Rohatgi that court should not interfere in the business of the legislative assembly, noting there have been not just precedents but also the provision itself carves out exceptional circumstances where judicial scrutiny is allowed.

“We may note that in the present case, the oath has not been administered to the elected members even though a month has elapsed since the declaration of election results. In such emergent facts and circumstances, to curtail unlawful practices such as horse-trading, to avoid uncertainty and to effectuate smooth running of democracy by ensuring a stable Government, we are of the considered opinion that it is necessary to pass certain interim directions in this case,” maintained the top court while ordering the floor-test.

For various other legal and constitutional issues relating to boundaries between the jurisdiction of courts and parliamentary independence, the bench said it will hear the matter after eight weeks once all the parties have filed their replies.

The court was unequivocal that while the larger questions of law can be decided later, an imminent floor-test was the need of the hour.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will take oath as the next chief minister of Maharashtra on December 1, NCP president Sharad Pawar said on Tuesday.

Congress’ Maharashtra chief Balasaheb Thorat and NCP’s state president Jayant Patil will take oath as two deputies of Uddhav Thackeray.

Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress MLAs elected Thackeray as the leader of the joint legislative party in a meeting on Tuesday evening. “Sharad Pawar saheb had said that Uddhav ji will be the Chief Minister and Uddhav ji has also agreed to this,” NCP leader Nawab Malik said.

“Our alliance (NCP-Shiv Sena-Congress) will last for a long time. This is the start of BJPs end, BJP has become very arrogant,” Malik added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Devendra Fadnavis, who took oath as chief minister at a hastily organised ceremony at the Raj Bhavan on Saturday morning, resigned after the Supreme Court directed that the floor test for BJP government to prove majority in the assembly will be conducted on Wednesday.

Along with Fadnavis, NCP’s Ajit Pawar was also sworn in as deputy chief minister by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. Pawar also resigned from his post on Tuesday, soon after the apex court’s order on the floor test.

Four days after taking oath for the second term as Maharashtra chief minister, BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday announced his resignation saying “we don’t have the numbers.”

His resignation came after the Supreme Court directed that the floor test for Fadnavis to prove his majority in the assembly will be conducted on Wednesday. Fadnavis had taken oath as chief minister, along with NCP’s Ajit Pawar who was sworn in as deputy chief minister at a hastily organised ceremony at the Raj Bhavan on Saturday morning.

Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, Fadnavis said the BJP will play the role of “an effective opposition” even though he expressed doubts whether the “three-wheeler government” of Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress will be stable.

“…I’ll go to Raj Bhavan and tender my resignation. I wish them all the best whoever will form the government. But that will be a very unstable govt as there is a huge difference of opinions,” he said.

“I doubt that this three-wheeler govt will be stable but BJP will work as an effective opposition and try to raise the voice of people,” Fadnavis added.

Blaming the Shiv Sena for the break up of the “Mahayuti” alliance, the BJP legislature party leader said, “In elections, clear majority was given to Mahayuti and BJP got maximum 105 seats. We contested with Shiv Sena, but this mandate was for BJP because BJP won 70% seats out of all seats we contested.”

He, however, revealed that the Sena had told them that they would go with anyone who gives them the CM post.

“Shiv Sena told us even before the election results were out, that they will go with anyone which gives them the CM post,” he said. “We waited for them (Shiv Sena) for a long time but they didn’t respond and instead talked to Congress-NCP. People who never stepped outside Matoshree (Thackeray residence) to meet anyone were going door to door to form a government with NCP and Congress.”

“The hunger for power is such that now Shiv Sena leaders are even willing to ally with Sonia Gandhi,” he said.

Fadnavis said they would never break away any MLA.

“We had decided that we will never indulge in horse-trading, that we will never try to break away any MLA. Those who said that we indulge in horse-trading bought the entire horse stable,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said that it is necessary to have a floor test to avoid horse-trading and asked Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to appoint a pro-tem speaker to conduct the floor test.

A bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna directed the entire exercise to be telecast live.

Voting in the assembly shall not be on the basis of a secret ballot, the bench said.

In the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP is the single-largest party with 105 MLAs, while the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress have 56, 54 and 44 members, respectively.