In a stunning turn of events in Maharashtra, BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday returned as Chief Minister propped up by NCP’s Ajit Pawar, who was made his deputy, just hours after the new alliance of Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress reached a consensus that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will be their chief ministerial candidate. The swearing-in ceremony was held soon after the President’s rule, imposed on November 12, was revoked.
Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were sworn in by Koshyari at 8 am at a hush hush ceremony here after dramatic midnight developments, leading to the lifting of the President’s rule in Maharashtra.
Ajit Pawar’s volte face created fissures in the NCP, whose chief Sharad Pawar distanced himself from his nephew’s dramatic action, saying the decision to back Fadnavis for his second consecutive term was his personal choice and not that of the party.
Later in the day, the NCP removed Ajit Pawar as the party’s legislature unit head, saying his move was not in line with the party’s policies. The decision was taken at the meeting of the party’s legislators, where 49 of its 54 MLAs were present, sources said.
The Shiv Sena approached the Supreme Court against the “arbitrary and malafide actions/decisions” of Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari of swearing in Fadnavis.
There has been no official confirmation on reports that the governor has asked Fadnavis to prove his majority in the Assembly by November 30.
There were also reports that Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar met the governor separately late on Friday night, after which he sent a report to the Centre suggesting that the President’s rule be lifted.
After the dramatic early morning swearing in, leaders of the Sena and the Congress cried foul calling the Governor’s action as a murder of democracy.
While Uddav Thackeray said it is a ‘furgi-cal’ strike on the people of Maharashtra and they would avenge it, Sena leader Sanjay Raut accused Ajit Pawar of stabbing people of Maharashtra in the back by deciding to join hands with the BJP.
The Congress termed the swearing-in a “black chapter” in India’s history, and said the BJP acted as a “contract killer” of democracy and the governor once again proved to be BJP chief Amit Shah’s “hitman”.
The BJP, however, asserted that it had the “electoral and moral” mandate to form a government in Maharashtra and brushed aside the criticism of its alliance with NCP leader Ajit Pawar, saying the tie-up was guided by the “given situation”.
Sharad Pawar described Ajit Pawar’s decision to join hands with the BJP an act of indiscipline, and said his nephew and other MLAs of the party who have switched sides would attract the provisions of the anti-defection law.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut accused Ajit Pawar of stabbing people of Maharashtra in the back by joining hands with the BJP.
Later in the day, the Sena filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against the “arbitrary and mala fide actions and decisions” of the Maharashtra governor in swearing-in Fadnavis.
Sharad Pawar addressed a press conference with Uddhav Thackeray after the stunning developments of the morning.
MLAs who have defected stand to lose the membership of the Assembly, and when bypolls are held, the Congress-NCP-Sena alliance will ensure that they are defeated, he said.
Sharad Pawar said he was not aware if his nephew decided to support the BJP out of the fear of the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Ajit Pawar is among those named in the multi- crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam case.
The NCP chief also rejected the speculation that Ajit’s defiance was the result of power struggle with Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule over the post of chief minister.
Pawar said the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena, along with independents and smaller parties, have the support of 169 to 170 MLAs, and they were ready to form the government.
Pawar said of the 10 to 11 NCP MLAs, who were present with Ajit Pawar at Raj Bhavan, three have returned to the party. “Two more are on the way,” he said, adding “We have identified the legislators from TV grabs and pictures.”
“As the NCP legislature party leader, Ajit Pawar had the list of all the 54 MLAs with names, signatures and constituencies for internal party use. I presume he has submitted that list as a letter of support to the Governor. If this is true, the governor has been misled,” Pawar said.
NCP MLA Dhananjay Munde, a staunch supporter of Ajit Pawar, was present at the meeting of party legislators at the Chavan centre in south Mumbai later in the day.
The day’s dramatic events also led to a missing person complaint being filed for an MLA from the Sharad Pawar-led party.
Shahapur NCP MLA Daulat Daroda went ‘missing’ after reaching Raj Bhavan in south Mumbai the morning where Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar took oath.
Daroda had left his constituency, in neighbouring Thane, along with his son Karan on Friday night and has since been unreachable after reaching Mumbai, a police official said.
The BJP and the Sena, which fought the assembly polls in an alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively in the 288-member House. The Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister’s post.
Source – India Today