Maharashtra under President’s Rule

Mumbai/New Delhi: Over a fortnight after the declaration of Assembly election results, Maharashtra came under the President’s Rule on Tuesday and its assembly being kept under the suspended animation as the political stalemate continued with Congress and NCP saying they will bring a finality to their talks before discussions with Shiv Sena on forming a non-BJP government.

Shiv Sena, which has been keen on a party nominee becoming chief minister, moved the Supreme Court against Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision not to extend the time given to it to prove its ability to form the government in the state.

Another day of hectic political activity in Maharashtra saw Congress and NCP leaders holding a joint press conference in which they showed no hurry to form the non-BJP government and emphasised that there was a need for clarity on many issues.

It was immediately followed by a press conference by Shiv Sena Chief Udhhav Thackeray, who said that his party has to go ahead with Congress and NCP to form a government in the state and blamed the BJP for the snapping of ties between the two parties over the government formation.

Thackeray did not answer a question if the party’s ties with the BJP had completely ended and quipped: “Why you are in such a hurry.” In his report to the Centre, Governor Koshyari said it is not possible to form a stable government in the state and the government cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of Constitution.

After the BJP, which emerged as the single-largest party with 105 seats in 288 member assembly expressed its inability to form the government, Koshiyari on Sunday had asked the Shiv Sena to express its intention and ability to form the government. The party on Monday sought extra time to give letters of support from the Congress and the NCP which was declined and the Governor then gave an opportunity to the NCP.

The Congress slammed imposition of President’s Rule. BJP leader and caretaker Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis termed it unfortunate and expressed hope that a stable government would soon be formed.

Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and KC Venugopal specially flew to Mumbai to talk to NCP chief Sharad Pawar and later held a joint press conference with him.

Leaders from the two parties made it clear that Shiv Sena had made formal contact with them on government formation for the first time only on Monday.

“It is necessary that there should be clarity on some issues,” Ahmed Patel said. “Only after that, some decisions can be taken. First, we will talk. Let there be clarification and after that, we will talk to Shiv Sena,” he said.

Patel also talked about clarity on the common minimum programme (CMP). “The day there is a decision and there is clarity, we will talk to Shiv Sena,” he said.

Pawar said there had been no discussion between them on the CMP.

He said Congress and NCP had fought the elections on a common manifesto and there were no differences between them on the issues of governance.

“We had a common manifesto. When we sit with the Shiv Sena, then we will discuss our issues with them. We have not started our discussions with them yet,” he added.

Both NCP and Congress indicated that they were not in a hurry to form the non-BJP government. “We are in no hurry as the Governor has given us enough time to discuss and decide,” said Pawar.

NCP and Congress had fought the polls as allies. NCP has won 54 seats and Congress 44.

In his press conference, Thackeray said BJP and Shiv Sena were together for many years “but now Shiv Sena has to go with Congress-NCP”.

“We will hold further talks with both of them,” Thackeray said.

Responding to criticism about Shiv Sena’s ideological differences with the two parties which fought the elections together, Thackeray said: “I want to know how BJP and PDP, BJP and Nitish Kumar, BJP-Naidu, BJP-Ram Vilas

Paswan came together.” When asked if the option of going with BJP was completely finished, Thackeray said: “Why are you in such a hurry? It’s politics. Six months’ time has been given (President’s Rule). I didn’t finish the BJP option. It was the BJP itself, which did that.” Answering a query, he said as Congress, NCP needed clarity on some issues, so did his party.

The Shiv Sena chief confirmed that he had approached the Congress and the NCP to form the government on Monday.

“Yesterday we formally requested Congress, NCP for their support to form the government. We needed 48 hours, but the Governor didn’t give us time,” he said.

“BJP was invited by the Governor but they refused to form the government in the state. The next day we were given the invitation (by Governor). We were given only 24 hours but we required 48 hours. But he didn’t give us 48 hours,” he added.

Thackeray lauded party MP Arvind Sawant for resigning from the BJP-led central government after a word from him.

A Home Ministry spokesperson said the Governor’s efforts to explore the possibility of formation of government did not yield results.

The results of assembly polls, in which BJP and Shiv Sena got an absolute majority, were declared on October 24. However, differences between the two allies over power-sharing prevented the formation of a new government.

While Shiv Sena insisted on having the post of chief minister for two-and-a-half years, the BJP said there was no such pre-poll agreement between the two parties.

In his statement, Fadnavis said the people had given a very clear mandate.

“Even then a government could not be formed. It is very unfortunate that the state was forced to have the President’s Rule. Still, I expect that a stable government will soon be formed in the state,” he said.

Former Chief Minister Narayan Rane said that Fadnavis was making efforts to form a BJP led coalition government in the state.

“BJP will try to form the government. Devendra Fadnavis is putting in all efforts in this regard. I am now with the BJP. I will do everything I can to ensure the BJP comes to power again,” he said.

Rane was speaking to reporters after the BJP’s core committee meeting held at Varsha Bungalow, the official residence of the Chief Minister of the state.

BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said President’s Rule as unexpected and that his party will try to form a stable government in Maharashtra.

“President’s Rule in Maharashtra is definitely something we did not expect. We will certainly try to ensure the people’s mandate is respected. We will try to form a stable government. We will stand by the people of the state.” He also reacted to his colleague Narayan Rane’s comment that he was trying to help form a government in the state. “This is Rane Sahab’s personal opinion. No discussion was held on this issue in the BJP’s Core Committee meeting.”

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