Maharashtra’s Political Stalemate Ends in President’s Rule
Adamant Shiv Sena’s 50:50 demands with rotational CM post and postures led Maharashtra under President Rule.
Maharashtra’s political turmoil spanning over 18 days culminated into President’s rule being imposed in the state. The Assembly elections took place on 21 October and results were announced three days later. Bhartiya Janata Party with 105 seats, emerged as the single-largest party in the state, followed by Shiv Sena (SS), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and INC with 56, 54 and 44 seats, respectively. But none of the parties could cross the majority mark of 145 seats to form the government. While Shiv Sena went to the elections as a part of a pre-poll alliance with the BJP, INC and NCP also fought the assembly elections as an alliance.
Post the poll results, an NDA government looked imminent, with BJP’s and Shiv Sena’s combined strength being 161, easily crossing the magic number of 145. Shiv Sena remained adamant on a 50:50 formula, according to which, the state would have a BJP’s chief minister for half of the term and a Shiv Sena’s chief minister for the other half. With the saffron party, not conceding to the demands of its ally, a second term for the NDA government couldn’t formulate.
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After a long stalemate that lasted for 18 days, Maharashtra’s Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, under the provisions of Article 356, sent a report to the President stating that he was ‘satisfied that the Government of Maharashtra cannot be carried in accordance with the Constitution’.
Consequently, after the Union Cabinet’s meeting presided by the Prime Minister, the file was sent to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. President Kovind signed the proclamation, imposing President’s rule in the state under Article 356(1) and the state legislature has also been kept in suspended animation.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena said, it would move the SC for imposing President’s rule in the state. Sena had already filed a petition in the SC against the state’s governor for not extending the time to submit required letters of support to form the next government, PTI reported. The right-wing party, whose deadline to stake claim ended on Monday evening, asked for three more days to submit the requisite letters of support.
On Saturday, the governor, as is the practised convention, called BJP as the single-largest party, to form the government. After meeting the governor on Sunday regarding their inability to form a government, senior BJP leader Chandrakant Patil told the press, ‘We had got a very good mandate (BJP-Sena and other smaller parties) which is why the Governor had invited us to form the government. However, the Sena has not supported us in forming the government, since the mandate is for the alliance government is to be in power. We will not disregard it’. The governor then invited the Sena to indicate the ‘willingness and ability of his party to form government’.
‘Politics does make strange bedfellows’, has the best example in Maharashtra’s politics that brought an ultra-right-wing Hindu nationalist party with two left-to-the-centre parties. With a total strength of 154 MLAs, easily surpassing the 145-majority mark in the 288-member Assembly, an SS-NCP-INC government was another possibility.
On Sunday, the day governor invited SS to form a government as a pre-condition for its support, NCP asked Sena to snap all its ties from the ruling NDA alliance and demanded its member’s resignation from the Union cabinet.
NCP’s spokesperson Nawab Malik, in his interaction with ANI, said, ‘If Shiv Sena wants our support, they will have to declare that they have no relation with BJP and they should pull out from National Democratic Alliance (NDA). All their ministers will have to resign from Union Cabinet’.
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The next day, Sena’s sole minister in the Union cabinet, Arvind Savant who held the Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises portfolio, sent his resignation to the PMO.Deficient of numbers, the party asked the governor for three more days, that was not granted. The governor later invited NCP to form the government, giving it a day, till about 8:00 pm to stake its claim. But, much before its deadline, NCP approached the governor at about 11 amin the morning, seeking more time to stake its claim. Governor Koshyari turned down the demand and instead sent the report for the imposition of President’s rule in the state. Amid opposition and condemnation by the opposition parties, even the state BJP said that President’s rule was not expected. State BJP leader Sudhir Mungatiwar told reporters, ‘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’.
Responding at a press conference on Tuesday, Shiv Sena supremo UdhavThackeray said that the party wanted a few days to stake its claim, now it has six months, to ‘find a way to work together’. Talking about the ideological differences between his party has with both INC and NCP, Thackeray gave the examples of BJP–PDP alliance in J&K and BJP–JDU alliance in Bihar.
According to reports, in a would-be SS–NCP–INC government, Shiv Sena and NCP will have their CMs on a rotational basis for half of the term, while the post of Deputy CM will be held by an INC member, through the 5-years term.