Presidents rule in Maharashtra, Sena not to seek urgent SC hearing
He was earlier summoned for questioning, but citing COVID-19 guidelines, he had expressed his inability to visit the ED. PTI Photo

President's rule in Maharashtra, Sena not to seek urgent SC hearing

Congress and NCP remained indecisive over supporting a Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra even as President’s rule was imposed in the state on Tuesday. On Wednesday, all eyes will be set on the Supreme Court whether it takes up for hearing the Sena plea against governor’s refusal of more time.

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The Congress and the NCP remained indecisive over supporting a Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra even as President’s rule was imposed in the state on Tuesday (November 12). On Wednesday, all eyes will be set on the Supreme Court whether it takes up for hearing the Sena plea that challenged Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision of denying three more days to the party to get letters of support.

Governor Koshyari on Tuesday wrote to the Centre recommending central rule be imposed in the state, having been assured that “government cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution”. This came after the NCP, which was invited by the governor to form government, sought more time to speak with parties that may offer support to them.

Also read | Maharashtra under President rule for 3rd time in 59-year history

Earlier in the day, the Shiv Sena moved the Supreme Court over the governor’s refusal to grant more time to the party to submit the required letters of support to form the next government on Monday night. However, the top court refused an urgent hearing.

“Supreme Court registry said they may mention the matter tomorrow (Wednesday) before the court, for urgent hearing. Fresh/second petition challenging the imposition of President’s Rule is being readied. The decision on when to file it will be taken tomorrow,” said Shiv Sena’s lawyer Sunil Fernandes.

Congress-NCP indecisive

Congress leaders during a meeting with NCP, in Mumbai | PTI Photo

Meanwhile, top leaders of the Congress and the NCP met on Tuesday evening and thereafter clarified that they will hold further discussions on the terms to form a Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra. The Congress delegation that met NCP included senior leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge, KC Venugopal and Ahmed Patel.

Also read | Congress slams governor for recommending President’s rule in Maharashtra

“We (Congress and NCP leaders) discussed the nitty gritty of a (possible) common minimum programme to ensure the government functions smoothly,” NCP leader Sharad Pawar said during a joint press conference after the meeting. Asked whether the Congress and NCP leaders will hold meetings with Thackeray, Pawar sarcastically said the two allies were “not in a hurry”, as the governor has given them “lot of time”, referring to the imposition of President’s rule.

Patel said the Shiv Sena, which had contested the elections in alliance with the BJP, approached the Congress-NCP formally only on Monday, seeking support. No final decision can be taken about supporting the Sena without first formulating the common minimum program, he added.

Will work out a formula: Sena

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray too held a media briefing soon after the Congress-NCP press conference and said the Congress, the NCP and his party will work out a formula for formation of the government in Maharashtra. He said the Sena too needs a clarity on the common minimum programme just like the Congress and the NCP if a government is to be formed with their support.

Also read | Sena, Cong, NCP will work out a formula for govt formation: Uddhav

Saffron allies, Shiv Sena and BJP engaged in a hard bargain over the former’s demand of a rotational chief minister, which Thackeray claimed was decided before the assembly polls. But the BJP did not honour this commitment, he said. “It is not true Hindutva when you are in favour of Ram temple, but break promise. I want Ram Rajya in the country, which includes keeping promises made to people. If someone is not keeping the promise then it is not Hindutva,” Thackeray said.

Will do ‘whatever’ it takes: BJP leader

BJP leader Narayan Rane speaks to reporters | PTI Photo

BJP leader Narayan Rane on Tuesday said he will do “whatever” it takes to ensure a BJP government in Maharashtra and that former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is putting in all efforts in this direction. “The BJP will meet the governor with a list of 145 MLAs to form the government and not with empty hands,” he said, possibly a reference to Sena’s failed visit to Raj Bhavan a day earlier.

Also read | Shiv Sena moves SC against Guv’s denies extra time to muster numbers

Further, on being asked if Congress and NCP leaders are in touch with him, he said, “I cannot say anything on it. All I can say is that I am trying to help form government.” However, another BJP leader, Sudhir Mungantiwar termed what Rane said as his personal views and was not discussed in the party’s core committee’s meeting.

On further developments in the state, he added, “President’s rule is definitely something we did not expect. We will certainly try to ensure that people’s mandate is respected. We will try to form a stable government. We will stand by the people of the state.”

The number game

To prove majority in the 288-seat Maharashtra assembly, a party needs the support of 145 MLAs. However, all the four major parties in the state — the BJP (105), the Shiv Sena (56), the NCP (54) and the Congress (44) — have fallen short of the half way mark.

Allies BJP and Sena could have easily proved majority together and form a coalition government had they not entered into a power tussle over the post of chief minister. Since the BJP had backed off saying it does not have the numbers to form government, the Shiv Sena was expected to form an alliance with the NCP and Congress, which together will have 154 MLAs. According to NCP and Congress leaders, further discussions will be held on the terms of forming a Sena-led coalition government in Maharashtra.

(With inputs from agencies)

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