MUMBAI: President Ramnath Kovind has on Tuesday approved the Union cabinet’s recommendation to impose President’s rule in Maharashtra, giving a new twist the raging political drama in the state for the last 20 days.
The cabinet decision came on the basis of a report submitted by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari that he was satisfied that the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
Curiously, the Governor’s recommendation came before the expiry of the 24 hours given to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to prove its majority. The NCP had time up to 8.30 pm on Tuesday to meet the Governor. NCP was waiting for a discussion with the emissaries of the Congress high command at Mumbai to finalise the alliance.
The Governor had invited the NCP, the third largest party in the Maharashtra Assembly, to prove its majority after Shiv Sena, the second largest party with 56 seats failed to prove the majority within 24 hours it was given. While Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar and Maharashtra Congress leaders were in favour of an alliance, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul were against supporting the Sena, with which it has several ideological differences.
The Governor had given Sena time till 7.30 pm on Monday to express its willingness to form the government and establish the numbers. Having waited whole day for the Congress and the NCP to jointly support a Sena government in the Assembly, young leader Aditya Thackeray could only prove his ‘willingness’ but could not establish the numbers.
The Governor turned down Thackeray’s plea for three more days to prove majority and invited the NCP to form the government instead.
The Governor’s decision to recommend President’s rule in the state has evoked sharp reactions from various quarters. Leaders from the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena have accused the governor of "unconstitutionally" declining enough time to the second and third largest parties to stake a claim.
Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam said that the Governor should have waited till 8.30 tonight before sending report to Centre. Because he only had fixed this deadline with NCP as last option to form the government. Prima facie it looks illegal and unconstitutional now.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the governor had "committed a grave travesty of the democracy and made a mockery of the Constitutional process" in recommending President’s Rule in Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena has filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Governor’s decision to not extend the time given to the party to prove their ability to form the government. Advocate Sunil Fernandez has filed the plea for Shiv Sena, ANI reported. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal will be appearing for the party in the court.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs has clarified that the President's Rule can be withdrawn if any party can prove majority. An MHA statement quoted by the media said that the decision was taken after the Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's recommendation because he claimed that a stable government couldn't be formed in the state.
In the meantime, an India Today report said that NCP has proposed for its alliance partner to have the deputy chief minister's post for five years while insisting that the party joins the coalition government between NCP and Shiv Sena.
The NCP is also expected to bargain for a rotational chief minister's post between itself and the Shiv Sena, if the parties manage to cobble up a coalition government. Reports also said that Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, and KC Venugopal in the meeting with Sharad Pawar have demanded a common minimum programme. (with inputs from media reports)