The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on a floor test in Maharashtra for 10.30 am on Tuesday after hearing arguments from the Centre, the BJP and the Shiv-Sena-NCP combine.
On Monday, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis claimed the support of 170 MLAs in court as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, submitted letters of the Maharashtra Governor and Fadnavis.
As the hearing was underway, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine staked claim to form government, submitting signatures of162 MLAs’ support to the state governor, NDTV reported. The letter had signatures of 51 of NCP’s 54 MLAs.
In the Supreme Court
During the hearing, Mehta claimed that Ajit Pawar’s letter, attached with Fadnavis’, had signatures of support from 54 NCP MLAs. The letter says that all the NCP MLAs had elected Pawar as the head of the party, Bar&Bench quoted Mehta.
After Pawar’s letter, dated November 22, Fadnavis staked claim along with letters of support of 11 independent and other BJP MLAs. The Governor then wrote to the President, requesting for revocation of the President’s Rule, Mehta told the SC.
Maharashtra Governor is not supposed to conduct a roving and fishing inquiry to ascertain which party has numbers to form govt, he said.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Fadnavis, says:
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Shiv Sena, argued, “What was the emergency to revoke President’s rule at 5.17 am and swear in CM at 8 am? There is no reason to be shown for such dire urgency,” LiveLaw quoted.
Appearing for the NCP, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that letter of support produced by Ajit Pawar did not say that the MLAs supported the BJP. He also argued that Ajit Pawar had been removed as legislative party chief of the NCP.
Singhvi tried to submit an affidavit with the original which had the signatures of 154 MLAs supporting the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine, but was asked to withdraw as it was not provided to the other side (BJP), PTI reported.
At the Raj Bhavan
The NCP-Congress-Shiv Sena requested they be given a chance to form the government, saying the BJP does not have the required numbers. The letter was signed by Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, Congress state president Balasaheb Thorat and NCP state president Jayant Patil, Indian Express said.
Shiv Sena’s response
A scathing editorial in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana called the governor’s acceptance of Ajit Pawar’s letter the “height of cheating”, claiming Ajit had stolen the letter from party office.
Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde said the Fadnavi’s minority government should resign and the majority should be given an opportunity to form government.
NCP state chief Jayant Patil said, “The current government in Maharashtra has been formed on the basis of false papers and documents. We are in a position to bring 162 MLAs before Maharashtra Governor at any given time,” Express quoted.
Meanwhile, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said a decision on Ajit Pawar’s expulsion will be taken at the party-level.
Ajit was removed as NCP’s legislature unit leader on Saturday, which the BJP claimed as invalid because all MLAs were not present at the meeting. At the meeting, Ajit Pawar had been replaced with Jayant Patil.
The Congress protested against the developments in Maharashtra on the Parliament premises on Monday.
In the Lok Sabha, Rahul Gandhi said democracy had been murdered in the state.
After the SC hearing, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala addressed the media and said: “The government formed by Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar is illegitimate as they do not have the numbers. Continuing the unholy government for even a second is a sacrilege. Democracy has been trampled upon by the BJP. We believe that in the floor test, our majority shall be established. We are confident that the Supreme Court will do justice.”
What happened on the weekend?
November 22: Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine agreed to name of Uddhav Thackeray as the Chief Minister of the post-poll alliance “Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi”.
November 23: President’s rule was revoked at 5.47 am on Saturday and Fadnavis was sworn in as Maharashtra chief minister, Ajit Pawar as Deputy CM.
Combine moved SC challenging Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari’s decision, seeking urgent hearing. SC registry posted the matter for hearing on Sunday.
November 24: SC asksedSolicitor General Tushar Mehta to place before it letters of Maharashtra Governor recommending revocation of President’s rule and issued notice to Centre and others.
In the state election, BJP won 105 seats, Shiv Sena 56, NCP 54 and Congress 44.