President's rule in Maharashtra
PTI, New Delhi/Mumbai :
President's rule was imposed in Maharashtra on Tuesday evening amid a political impasse, after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in a report to the Centre stated that formation of a stable government was impossible in the current situation despite all his efforts, drawing flak from non-BJP parties.
The development came as senior Congress leaders deputed by party chief Sonia Gandhi were in a huddle with NCP president Sharad Pawar in south Mumbai on supporting Shiv Sena to form a government in the state, which has plunged into political uncertainty after the BJP and the Shiv Sena parted ways due to disagreement over power sharing though their alliance got a comfortable majority in the Assembly polls.
After the meeting, Congress leader Ahmed Patel insisted no final decision can be taken without formulation of common minimum programme by the three parties. He also condemned the imposition of President's rule and said Congress was not given an opportunity to form government.
Earlier in the day, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi considered the report of the Governor to the President that was submitted at noon.
The Cabinet recommended that the President issue a Proclamation under Article 356(1) of the Constitution imposing President's rule in Maharashtra and keep the state legislative assembly under suspended animation.
"President Ram Nath Kovind has signed the proclamation," an official said. In his report, the governor said that a situation has arisen in the state "in which it is impossible to constitute and/or form a stable Government in the state", officials said.
The governor noted that he made attempts to explore the possibility of formation of government by having appropriate communications with all the political parties which could have formed the government in alliance with other political parties, but they have not succeeded. "He is satisfied that the government cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution, (and therefore) has today submitted a report as contemplated by provision of Article 356 of the Constitution," said a tweet from the governor's office.
After the BJP declined to form the government and the Shiv Sena failed to get letters of support from the NCP and the Congress, Koshyari had on Monday night asked the Sharad Pawar-led NCP to express its "ability and willingness" to stake claim to form government in the state by 8.30 pm on Tuesday.
However, the Governor, is his report, noted that the NCP on Tuesday morning conveyed to him that the party needed three more days to gather requisite support. The governor felt that as already 15 days had passed, he was not in a position to give more time, the officials said. President's Rule can be revoked before the six-month period if a situation emerges for formation of a stable government, the officials said.
In the assembly polls held last month, the BJP won 105 seats, followed by the Shiv Sena (56), the NCP (54) and the Congress (48) in the 288-member House. An angry Shiv Sena, which was trying to cobble together a non-BJP government with support from the NCP and the Congress, moved the Supreme Court challenging the governor's decision on Monday to not grant it the three days to submit the letter of support for government formation in the state, but failed to get an urgent hearing. "The Supreme Court has asked us to mention the writ petition that we filed at 10.30 AM on Wednesday before the court," Advocate Sunil Fernandes, who filed the petition on behalf of the Shiv Sena, told PTI. He said the fresh/second petition challenging the imposition of President's rule in the state is being readied. "The decision on when to file it (fresh petition) will be taken tomorrow," he said. In its petition, the party termed the decision "unconstitutional, unreasonable, discriminatory, capricious and mala fide". The Congress was scathing too with its chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala questioning the governor for the "arbitrary" allotment of time to the NCP, Shiv Sena and the BJP to prove support for government formation. "This is unashamedly dishonest & politically motivated," Surjewala said. "Governor Koshiyari has committed a grave travesty of democracy and made a mockery of the Constitutional process in recommending President's Rule in Maharashtra," he said in a series of tweets.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had spoken to NCP chief Sharad Pawar on the phone and had authorised Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Venugopal to hold discussions with Pawar for further talks on the issue of forming the state government. Gandhi also held talks with the party's core team members A K Antony and Venugopal at her residence. Patel is also learnt to have spoken to Pawar over working out modalities with the NCP on government formation. In the midst of the ongoing political drama, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Pawar separately met Sena leader Sanjay Raut at Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital where the latter underwent an angioplasty procedure. Raut had led the Sena's charge for equal share in power with the BJP after the Assembly poll results in Maharashtra. But that did not work and the alliance came undone. The ailing leader quoted poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan to reaffirm his party's resolve to succeed and not give up.
"Lehron se dar kar nauka paar nahi hoti, himmat karne waalon ki kabhi haar nahi hoti" (the boat that qualms the waves never gets across, those who dare do not lose). The 57-year-old Rajya Sabha member also tweeted, "Hum honge kamyaab, zaroor honge" (We would succeed, definitely). The Shiv Sena had suffered a setback in its efforts to form a non-BJP government in Maharashtra with the Congress at the last moment announcing its decision to hold more talks with ally NCP on supporting the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.
The president has accepted the resignation of Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant from the Union council of ministers with immediate effect, a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said on Tuesday. Sawant had on Monday announced his resignation from the Union cabinet, saying it would not be proper to continue as a union minister when a new government is being formed in Maharashtra.