Fadnavis quits as Maharashtra CM, Ajit back with uncle Pawar

Fadnavis resignation
Cheif Minister Devendra Fadnavis submits his resignation to Governor Bhagat SIngh Koshyari | Photo: Twitter/ANI

Devendra Fadnavis resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra on Tuesday (November 26), hours after the Supreme Court directed his government to take a floor test in the Assembly by 5 pm on Wednesday. Fadnavis announced his resignation during a press briefing at 3:30 pm on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar had also resigned from the post of deputy chief minister. Media reports said quoting NCP sources that Ajit Pawar has returned to the Sharad Pawar-led party following his resignation. However, he will not attend Tuesday’s joint meeting of the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena, NCP leader Jayant Patil said.

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“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 percent seats out of all seats we contested. Shiv Sena told us even before the election results, that they will go with anyone which gives them the CM post,” said Fadnavis during the briefing.

“After this, 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 government as there is huge difference of opinions. 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,” he added.

The Supreme Court had said on Tuesday (November 26) that the newly-formed BJP government in Maharashtra headed by Devendra Fadnavis will have to prove its majority in the Assembly by Wednesday, while giving its order on a petition by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine challenging the government formation by the BJP in the state.

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Stating that it is necessary to have a floor test to avoid horse-trading, the apex court also asked Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to appoint a pro-tem speaker and ensure that all elected members of the House are sworn in on Wednesday itself.

A pro-tem speaker is a temporary speaker who is appointed to preside over the proceedings of the House when the Legislative Assembly has been elected, but the vote for the speaker and deputy speaker has not taken place. The pro-tem speaker will also administer the oath of office to the newly-elected members.

Highlights of SC order
  • Governor to ensure that floor test be held on November 27.
  • Pro­tem Speaker shall be solely appointed for the aforesaid agenda immediately.
  • All elected members shall take oath on November 27, which should be completed before 5 pm.
  • Immediately thereafter, the Pro­tem Speaker shall conduct the floor test.
  • Floor test will not be conducted by secret ballot.
  • Proceedings have to be telecast live.
SC’s observations
  • Undemocratic and illegal practices within the political arena should be curtailed.
  • If floor test is delayed there is a possibility of horse trading.
  • Eight-weeks-time granted to Centre, others to file replies on the plea of Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine against the Maharashtra governor’s decision to swear in Fadnavis as CM.

Ruling out the option of secret ballot, the top court said the floor test will be live telecast.

“In the present case, oath has not been administered to the newly elected MLAs…In the present scenario to avoid horse trading it is necessary to have a floor test to determine the majority in the house,” the bench said adding, “We are of the considered opinion that the governor should ensure a floor test.”

The entire exercise has to be wrapped up by 5 pm, ruled the three-judge bench of justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhusan and Sanjiv Khanna.

The court said it was necessary to pass an interim order for a floor test to uphold democratic values and the citizen’s rights to good governance. It was imperative for the court to be cognisant of the prevailing circumstances, the bench added. The top court also said for a stable government in the state, the floor test has to be conducted as soon as possible and the governor should appoint a pro-tem speaker for administering oath to the elected members. In the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP is the single-largest party with 105 MLAs, followed by the Shiv Sena (56 MLAs), the NCP (54 MLAs) and the Congress (44 MLAs).

Soon after the Supreme Court order, Balasaheb Thorat was elected as Congress Legislative Party leader. A meeting of Congress MLAs attended by senior party leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge, Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan is underway at JW Marriott Hotel.

Security was tightened at Vidhan Bhawan in Mumbai after the Supreme Court’s order, to avoid any untoward incident outside the premises.

“No unauthorised person will be allowed to enter the Vidhan Bhavan. Entry passes will be issued to only those who are authorised to enter the premises,” said a senior police official.