Maharashtra govt formation updates: Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine's chief ministerial nominee Uddhav Thackeray reached Raj Bhavan and staked claim to form government in Maharashtra.
Ajit Pawar, who was removed fromt the post of leader of NCP's legislature party, has reached party supremo and his uncle Sharad Pawar's residence in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, a delegation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, inclding Shiv Sena leaders Eknath Shinde, Sunil Prabhu, Milind Narvekar, has reached Raj Bhavan to meet the governor and stake claim to government formation.
"Three representatives of 'Maha Vikas Aghadi' will meet the Governor today. Swearing-in ceremony to be held at Shivaji Park in Mumbai on 1 December," Sharad Pawar announces at the joint meeting. At Hotel Trident in Mumbai, the NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress jointly met to elect Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as their leader. "We all want Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray to lead our alliance as the Chief Minister," NCP's Jayant Patil said. Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde moves resolution to form 'Maha Vikas Aghadi', the alliance of Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress. NCP's Nawab Malik and Congress' Nitin Raut second it. The resolution has been passed by all MLAs.
NCP MLAs gave a rousing welcome to Sharad Pawar at Hotel Trident in Mumbai on Tuesday. The leaders of NCP-Shiv Sena-Congress reached Hotel Trident to elect Uddhav as their legislative party leader. After the joint meeting, the three parties will head to Raj Bhawan to stake claim to form the next government. NCP MLAs raised slogans outside the hotel, saying, "Maharashtra cha ekch wagh, Sharad Pawar Sharad Pawar" (There is only one tiger in Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar Sharad Pawar) .
Ahead of the joint meeting of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, NCP's Jayant Patil said that Ajit Pawar will not come for today's meeting. "There has not been contact with him. But I have been meeting him since 2 days, I will meet him today as well." Meanwhile, cheers, slogans and celebrations by party workers welcomed the MLAs fo Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress at the Trident Hotel in Mumbai where they are likely to elect Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as the leader. The alliance is expected to stake a claim at the power today.
Speaking to reporters, NCP's Nawab Malik said that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will be the new chief minister of Maharashtra. Protem Speaker Kalidas Kolambkar who was sworn in by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari announced that the first session of the Assembly elected after the 21 October elections would be held tomorrow. The newly elected MLA will be sworn in at 8 am.
Newly-appointed Pro-tem Speaker Kalidas Kolambkar has told ANI that the MLAs will be administered the oath on Wednesday when the session begins. Kolambkar took the oath as a Pro tem Speaker at 5.00 pm today at Raj Bhavan. Meanwhile, Congress sources have told India Today TV that Balasaheb Thorat is the frontrunner for deputy chief minister post since he is one of the senior-most MLA in the assembly. The two former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan are likely to be out of that race. NCP Jitendra Awhad is also in the race for the deputy chief minister post. Close confidant of Sharad Pawar, he is a non-Maratha and an OBC leader, an urban face of NCP, India Today reports.
Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress will meet Governor Koshyari at 7 pm today, India Today reports. The three parties are likely to ask the governor to take oath tomorrow. Two MLAs from each party are likely to take oath tomorrow, reports said citing sources.
After Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar resigned from the post of Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, Congress' KC Venugopal said, "Today evening there will be joint press conference of the three — Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP — parties and a meeting. In the meeting, leader of joint legislative party will be elected, I think Uddhav ji will be elected." When asked about Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar's resignation, Venugopal said, "This is a victory of constitutional democracy. They thought through horse trading they can make governemnt. This is not only a failure of Devendra Fadnavis but also a slap on faces of their masters sitting in Delhi."
Addressing the media today, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis resigns as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. 'Ajit Pawar submitted his resignation and because of that we do not have the numbers to form government in Maharashtra. I will submit my resignation to the Governor after this press conference,' former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said at the media briefing today. Fadnavis blamed Ajit Pawar for the crisis.
Ahead of tomorrow's floor test, NCP leader Ajit Pawar resigned as the deputy chief minister. Official confirmation is still awaited, however, DD News, NDTV and News18 have reported that Pawar has actually submitted his resignation to Fadnavis. If this is true, sources said, it's a huge loss of faith on part of Pawar. Reacting to the news. Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut told reporters, "Ajit Dada has resigned and he is with us. Uddhav Thackeray will be the Chief Minister of Maharashtra for five years." All eyes are now on Devendra Fadnavis' media briefing at 3.30 pm today.
After the Supreme Court ordered for a floor test in Maharashtra Assembly tomorrow, which will be telecast live, all legislators of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress will meet at 5 pm today, ANI reports. The tripartite alliance will elect its leader, sources have told ANI.
BJP's Kalidas Kolambkar is the front-runner among those who are likely to be considered for post of pro tem Speaker. A former Congress leader, and an another eight-time MLA, he won from the Wadala Assembly seat in the elections held last month. He is considered a close confidante of senior BJP leader Narayan Rane. His name emerged as the front runner as although there are no set rules for appointment of a protem speaker, by tradition, the senior most member is given the responsibility. Earlier, Congress' Balasaheb Thorat — also an eight-time-MLA — was also considered to be in the race, but now he has been appointed the legislative party leader of the Congress. Hence, it is unlikely that he will be named protem speaker.
Maharashtra Congress President Balasaheb Thorat has been elected as their legislative party leader. Thorat is the senior most MLA and trusted aid of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. He is also close to Rahul Gandhi. Meanwhile, ahead of the floor test tomorrow, BJP MLAs have been asked to gather at 9 pm. "Our core committee met today and it has been decided that all our MLAs will be asked to gather at Garware club at 9 pm," said BJP leader Raosaheb Danve Patil.
Security has been beefed up around the Vidhan Bhawan in Mumbai in view of the Supreme Court's order directing a floor test tomorrow, a senior official said. Elaborate police bandobast has been made to avoid any untoward incident outside the premises, he said. "The Vidhan Sabha security officials were taking care of the security arrangements inside the legislature building," he said.
All BJP MLAs have been summoned on Tuesday ahead of floor test scheduled at 5 pm on Wednesday, which will be conducted by a Pro-tem Speaker. They have asked to meet at Mumbai's Wankhade stadium at 9 pm.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday hailed the Supreme Court's direction calling for a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday, saying he was grateful to the apex court for upholding the democratic values and constitutional principles.
He said it was heartening that the verdict came when the 'Constitution Day' is being celebrated, and dubbed it as a tribute to Dr BR Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution.
Singing praise of the Supreme Court order on Maharashtra floor test which will be conducted on Wednesday after 5 pm, Shiv Sena's firebrand leader Sanjay Raut displayed confidence when he said that the Maha Vikas Aghadi can prove majority in House even within the time limit of thirty minutes.
"Even if the court gives us 30 minutes, we will prove our majority. We are thankful to the Supreme Court. This proves that our Judicial system is transparent. The Supreme Court has agreed on most of our demands because we were honest," said Raut.
As the Supreme Court directed to call for a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday, with the proceedings to be conducted live telecast, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said only truth will prevail and that it was "end of the BJP's game".
"Satyamev Jayate BJP ka khel khatm" (truth alone shall win, end of the BJP's game), NCP's chief spokesperson Nawab Malik tweeted after the apex court gave its ruling.
Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday expressed satisfaction over the Supreme Court ruling to conduct a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday, and said the Shiv Sena, Congress and the NCP have a majority in the House.
"Sena, Cong, NCP are satisfied with the Supreme Court order of a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly. The Constitution has been respected on Constitution Day.
"We are confident that we have a majority in the Maharashtra Assembly. The reality of BJP's claim will be exposed tomorrow," he said.
The Supreme Court ruled that the oath for MLAs must be concluded by 5 pm, following which the floor test should be conducted by a pro-tem Speaker.
Floor test to be conducted on 27 November, said Supreme Court. The proceedings to be conducted via open ballot by pro-tem Speaker.
Even after NCP stripped Ajit Pwar off his power to issue a whip to MLAs in Assembly by replacing him with Jayant Patil as Leader of the Legislative Party, BJP leader Ashish Shelar said Pawar was the leader of NCP on the Floor of the House.
We are confirmed that Ajit Pawar's whip will hold as leader of legislature party, said Shelar in Mumbai.
A petition is likely to be filed by the NCP-Shiv Sena-Congress combine in Supreme Court on Tuesday against the BJP over closure of nine cases against Ajit Pawar in the 70,000-crore irrigation scam, CNN-News18 reported.
"The Devendra Fadnavis Government cannot take policy decisions before floor test," the petition read.
Calling the decision to close cases against Ajit Pawar "illegal", the plea seeks a stay on the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau's (ACB) move to close cases.
Ahead of Tuesday's 10.30 am Supreme Court ruling on the floor test for the Maharashtra government led by the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress' Maha-Aghadi on Monday evening put on a 'show of strength' at a Mumbai luxury hotel.
At a event at the Grand Hyatt, 162 MLAs of the Maha-Aghadi vowed not to "fall for any inducements" from the BJP. NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, the Opposition leader who single-handedly defied the BJP at the hustings in the Maharashtra Assembly polls, told the gathering he would ensure none of them loses membership for voting against the BJP during the floor test. The NCP chief claimed that the BJP has tried unconstitutional ways to gain power in Goa and some other states. "Maharashtra is not Goa and it is time to teach them a lesson," Pawar said.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar addresses MLAs at the show of strength in Mumbai's Grand Hyatt hotel. ANI
"Misinformation is being spread that Ajit Pawar is the NCP's legislature party leader who would issue a whip to all (NCP) MLAs to vote for the BJP (in floor test). It is being said that whoever defies the whip would lose his membership of the House," Pawar said. The NCP chief added that he had consulted several constitutional and legal experts and also gone through previous instances on the issue of technicalities.
"I have come to the conclusion that Ajit Pawar, who is removed from his position (as the NCP legislature party leader for joining hands with the BJP in forming a government), has no legal right to issue a whip to MLAs," Pawar said. "I personally take the responsibility that your membership of the House will not become null and void. People who have acquired power illegally have to be removed now," Pawar said apparently referring to the BJP.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, speaking at the event, asked the BJP to "make way" for the Sena-NCP-Congress alliance to rule Maharashtra. Those present were at the parade were Congress leader Ashok Chavan, who said, "We are more than 162, not just 162. We all will be a part of the government. I thank Sonia Gandhi who allowed for this alliance to stop BJP." "The governor should invite us to form government," he said.
The Sena and Congress MLAs arrived at the hotel shortly before 7 pm by various buses arranged by their parties. NCP MLAs were shifted there earlier from another hotel. Even as the "parade" of MLAs was in progress in the hotel, supporters of these parties gathered outside shouted slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
BJP mocks Maha-Aghadi combine
The BJP hit back at the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP combine over its show of strength of their MLA, and said they will win the "photo finish" race during floor test in the Assembly. Addressing a press conference , BJP leader and former Maharashtra minister Ashish Shelar taunted the Sena-NCP -Congress for "identification parade" of their MLAs and termed it as a cruel joke on the people of the state and democracy. This cannot be equated with a floor test in the Assembly, he said, minutes after the unprecedented public parade of what the three parties claimed were 162 MLAs at a high-end hotel.
Shelar said, "We are sure that we will win the floor test in the assembly, whenever it gets convened. Such parades in a hotel will not help in proving majority on the floor." He also hit at the Shiv Sena, the BJP's one-time ally, for "forsaking" Hindutva and joining hands with the Congress, its ideological rival. Shelar took potshots at Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray, the son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray, for taking an oath in the name of Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi. "The way Shiv Sena leaders have joined hands with the Congress, it underscores how hollow it's Hindutva has been," said the BJP leader.
Shelar wondered whether there were even 145 MLAs at the hotel, the majority mark in the 288-member state Assembly. "You may have your photo, you may have your photographers there to show your strength, but it is the BJP who will win at the time of photo-finish under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis and (deputy CM) Ajit Pawar," he said, indicating a tight race during the floor test.
Controversy over closure of 9 cases related to irrigation scam
Opposition parties reacted with fury to the news of the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) announcing it had closed the probe into alleged irregularities in nine cases related to the Maharashtra irrigation projects, adding that none of those was linked to Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra took a dig at the prime minister, saying he gave an impressive speech on corruption in Jharkhand and it is being implemented in Maharashtra at the same time.
"Contract killing" of democracy in Maharashtra has now also become "contract killing" of honesty and accountability, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
"The only public interest decision taken in the last 48 hours is to close down the irrigation scam and the corruption cases by the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to answer that is this the 'Na Khaoonga na khaane doonga claim'. The BJP has become Bhrashtachar Jagao Party," Surjewala added.
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said the closing of the corruption cases is the "most brazen, most shameful act" of conspiracy, corrupt practice, quid-pro-quo unheard of even according to the levels to which certain parties have stooped. "It is reprehensible, we condemn it, it makes good all the points we have made, it shows that desperation by hook or by crook and more by crook and less by hook of the ruling party in somehow by corrupt and illegal means to form a government," Singhvi told reporters.
File image of Parliament. PTI
Uproar in Parliament
The power tussle in Maharashtra reverberated in Parliament on Monday as Opposition members staged vociferous protests, forcing adjournment of proceedings in both the Houses, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi dubbing the developments in the state as "murder of democracy". Rahul set the tone for the protests in the morning when he refused to ask a supplementary question during Question Hour in the lower house while two of his party MPs, Hibi Eden and TN Prathapam, carrying a big black banner that read 'Stop murder of democracy' entered the Well of the House.
The action of the two Congressmen drew the ire of Speaker Om Birla, who ordered marshals to remove the two lawmakers after his warning to them to go back to their seats went unheeded. However, other Congress members, carrying placards with messages such as "save Constitution" and "save democracy", joined in and resisted their eviction from the House and were seen jostling with the marshals, prompting the speaker to adjourn the House till noon. "There is no point in me asking the question as democracy has been murdered in Maharashtra," Rahul said amid the fracas.
Since the two Congress MPs were named by the Speaker, they were suspended for the day and were not present when the House reassembled at 2.00 PM. However, as the din continued, Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day. Sources said Birla wanted apology from the two Kerala MPs for storming the Well with the banner, but Congress was not ready to apologise. Outside the House, Birla said,"I am hurt by whatever happened in Parliament today. It is unacceptable and won't be tolerated." Sources said it is being considered whether these two MPs can be suspended for five years for storming the Well of the House and obstructing Parliament proceedings by shouting slogans. While most Congress members were in the Well, those from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) also started raising slogans against the BJP-led Centre from their seats. Amid the sloganeering, four bills, including the one to amend the SPG Act, were introduced in Lok Sabha.
In Rajya Sabha, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu rejected notices by Opposition members seeking discussion on the happenings in Maharashtra, evoking sharp reactions from them as they raised slogans, prompting Naidu to adjourn the House. Later at 2.00 PM when the House reassembled, the Congress, the Left, the DMK and other opposition members were up on their feet again, demanding discussion on the events in Maharashtra. Deputy Chairman Harivansh said since the issue is sub-judice, it cannot be discussed.
Congress members asked that if the matter was sub-judice, then why was Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi allowed to speak on the matter in the House. Earlier in the day, Naqvi had alleged that the Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP were trying to "hijack" democracy in Maharashtra through "jugad". As the Opposition continued to stall proceedings, the Upper House was adjourned for the day. Meanwhile, outside Parliament, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged that women parliamentarians of his party were "manhandled" in Lok Sabha when they were protesting in the Well of the House over the Maharashtra government formation. Congress MP from Tamil Nadu Jothimani alleged that she was "manhandled".
"It is sad that Ramya Haridas and me were manhandled, we have lodged complaint with the Speaker," she told reporters. Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi also raised the issue with the Speaker in his chamber saying that such incidents were uncalled for and should not happen, sources said. Countering Congress allegations, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asserted that Parliament cannot be allowed to become a place for "unruly" behaviour.
We outright condemn the reprehensible conduct of these MPs," Prasad said and also criticised senior Congress leaders who did "nothing" to prevent them.
"These members have shamed Lok Sabha in front of the country," he said. He was joined by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and Arjun Ram Meghwal, Joshi's deputy, and also rejected the Congress' claim that the marshals misbehaved with its woman MPs in the House, saying "everybody saw what happened".
File image of the Supreme Court. PTI
Showdown in Supreme Court
Earlier, a Supreme Court bench of Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna said it will pass an order at 10.30 am on Tuesday on the issue of floor test for the Maharashtra government led by Devendra Fadnavis whose swearing-in has been challenged by Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine. The deadline for the floor test was apprised by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who was representing Fadnavis.
In the House of 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, BJP is the single-largest party with 105 MLAs, followed by the Shiv Sena (56 MLAs), NCP (54 MLAs) and Congress (44 MLAs) The combine was pressing for the floor test on Monday itself, which was opposed by Fadnavis and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the secretary to governor, said: "The governor was immune to the proceedings in the apex court."
He said the BJP had the support of all 54 NCP MLAs to form the government and asked for 2 to 3 days to file a reply to the combine's plea by asserting that the Governor had, in his absolute discretion, invited the largest party to form the government on 23 November. "The governor was not supposed to conduct a roving and fishing inquiry to ascertain which party had the numbers to form government," he said. After perusing Koshyari's letter inviting Fadnavis, the bench said it has to be decided whether the chief minister enjoyed majority on the floor of the House.
File image of Ajit Pawar. PTI
Rohatgi said Fadnavis had Ajit Pawar's letter of support of 170 MLAs. "It is nobody's case that the documents submitted by Fadnavis to the governor are forged". Rohatgi said that some kind of a feud was going on in the Pawar family. "One Pawar is with me, another Pawar is here in the Supreme Court," he said, adding that the combine was unnecessarily alleging that some kind of horse-trading was going on.
"In fact, till Friday, they were indulging in horse-trading," he added. "Now, the question is that can this court say whether a floor test can be ordered within a particular time-frame," Rohatgi said. "The combine is asking the Supreme Court to decide how the governor and the Assembly should act," he said, adding that it could not interfere with the House procedure, which is regulated by Assembly rules.
Lawyers trade horse-trading barbs
The hearing saw sparks flying and sharp words being exchanged between opposing counsel on allegations of horse-trading and Ajit Pawar. "This is not a case of horse-trading, but a case of one entire stable going the other way," Mehta remarked. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal took note of the jibe and retorted: "The stable is still there, only the jockey (Ajit Pawar) has run away."
Mehta then took another dig that there was an agreement to file one petition by the combine but too many counsel — Sibal, A M Singhvi and others — were appearing in the case. "The three parties can't even agree to field a common counsel," he said on a lighter note.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 26, 2019 23:42:13 IST