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SC to give order on Maha govt formation on Tuesday, BJP and Cong spar over numbers

SC to give order on Maha govt formation on Tuesday, BJP and Cong spar over numbers
November 25
16:53 2019

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The Supreme Court will give its order on government formation in Maharashtra on Tuesday, the apex court announced as the political whirlpool in the state spun faster with the BJP and the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress throwing in competing claims and ugly scenes inside and outside Parliament.

The shaky government in Maharashtra, led by BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar of the NCP who were sworn in early on Saturday, got a breather with the Supreme Court on Monday saying it was reserving its decision for a day.

The Centre told the apex court the BJP had the support of all 54 NCP MLAs to form a government in Maharashtra and asked for two to three days to reply to the plea against Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision on Saturday.

The BJP is the single largest party with 105 MLAs in the 288-member state assembly followed by the Shiv Sena (56), NCP (54) and Congress (44). The Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister’s post.

As Fadnavis takes over the chief minister’s office for a second time propped by Ajit Pawar, who rebelled against his uncle Sharad Pawar and claimed he had the backing of NCP’s MLAs, the senior Pawar spoke to reporters in Maharashtra’s Karad town. He said Ajit Pawar’s decision was his alone and not of the NCP, and he has no contact with his nephew.

Appearing for the Shiv Sena in the apex court, senior advocate Kapil Sibal countered the BJP by saying the combine has affidavits from 154 Maharashtra MLAs and the BJP should be asked to prove its majority within 24 hours if it has the numbers.

The Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP has filed a plea against the governor’s move to revoke President’s rule in the early hours of Saturday and making BJP leader Fadnavis chief minister for a second time and NCP supremo Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar his deputy.

The Centre told a bench comprising Justices N.V. Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna that the governor had in absolute discretion invited the largest party to form government on November 23. The storm raged outside the apex court too.

Both houses of Parliament were repeatedly disrupted on the issue with the Congress alleging that women parliamentarians were manhandled by marshals in the Lok Sabha when they were protesting in the Well of the House on the matter. “Security personnel manhandled our women parliamentarians. We have never experienced this inside Parliament. We will be waiting to see what action is been taken against responsible people,” Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told reporters.

Congress MPs Jothimani and Ramya Haridas said they were “manhandled” and had filed a complaint with Speaker Om Birla. Democracy has been murdered in the state, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said as his party’s MPs protested outside the House too.

The BJP, in turn, accused Congress members of bringing “shame” to the Lok Sabha with their “unruly” conduct and rejected the opposition party’s claims that its MPs were manhandled .

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad appealed to all parties to maintain the sanctity and great traditions of Lok Sabha and told reporters that Parliament cannot be allowed to become a place for “unruly” behaviour. “These members have shamed Lok Sabha in front of the country,” he said.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, both MPs, were in Lok Sabha during the “incident”.

The BJP will get a “befitting reply” in the floor test in the Maharashtra assembly, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters.

In Mumbai, leaders of the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress on Monday submitted a letter to the governor, reiterating their claim that they have the required numbers to form government in the state. Addressing reporters, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut said the three parties have signatures of all their respective MLAs and will submit the list to the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court is the only institution where we still have some faith left,” he said.

Amid the high political drama and fear of ‘poaching’ of MLAs, the NCP shifted its legislators from a five-star resort to two other hotels in the city. Congress legislators are at a suburban hotel in Andheri as are the Shiv sena’s MLAs. Senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan on Sunday alleged that BJP leaders had booked rooms in a hotel where his party MLAs were put up and were contacting some of them.

Given the political scenario in the state, the role of MLAs has become far more crucial during the floor test in the 288-member House where the halfway mark is 145.

According to sources, Independent legislators and other MLAs could tilt the scales in favour of either the BJP-led government of Fadnavis backed by Ajit Pawar or the Sena- Congress-NCP combine during the floor test. PTI

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