Absolute political stunner in Maharashtra
NCP’s Ajit Pawar takes oath as Deputy CM
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. 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.
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. Few had an inkling of the swearing-in ceremony - which some dubbed a clandestine affair - at the sprawling Raj Bhavan in south Mumbai.
The event was a far cry from Fadnavis’ first such ceremony in 2014 in the packed Wankhede Stadium in presence of thousands of supporters. The swearing-in ceremony was held soon after the President’s Rule, imposed on November 12, was revoked. President Ram Nath Kovind signed the proclamation for revocation of the central rule and a gazette notification to this effect was issued at 5.47 am. As questions cropped up whether a meeting of the Union Cabinet was held to recommend revocation of the President’s rule, a senior Home Ministry official said the approval was given by the Central Government by invoking a special provision of The Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules which gives the prime minister special powers.
The Rule 12 says: “Departure from Rules.- The Prime Minister may, in any case or classes of cases, permit or condone a departure from these rules, to the extent he deems necessary”. The Prime Minister gave this approval, which acts as post-facto approval of the Union Cabinet, the official said. The swearing in ceremony came as a political shocker, hours after Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray emerged as the Sena-NCP-Congress’ consensus candidate for the top post. Speaking to BJP workers at the party office here, Fadnavis said he would give Maharashtra a strong Government with Ajit Pawar’s support. 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”. Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said an “opportunist” Ajit Pawar, accused by the saffron party in the past of corruption, was “scared” by the BJP of being put behind bars. 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”. Few had expected the month-long political impasse to end in such a dramatic manner. Pawar had on Friday night said the new Government would be led by Uddhav Thackeray.
The three parties had even prepared a draft common minimum programme to guide the actions of the new Government. 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. The Shiv Sena approached the Supreme Court against the “arbitrary and malafide actions/decisions” of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari of swearing in Fadnavis.
The Congress and the NCP, pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats respectively. The dramatic developments in Maharashtra came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s shout-out for Sharad Pawar’s party in Parliament, while speaking on the occasion of 250th session of the Rajya Sabha. Modi said other parties, including the BJP, should learn from the NCP and Biju Janata Dal on how to adhere to parliamentary norms. Pawar also met Modi this week over farmers’ distress in Maharashtra. In 2016, when Modi came to the Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI) in Manjari on an invitation from Pawar, he had praised the NCP chief as an example to others in public life. “I have personal respect for Pawar. I was the Gujarat chief minister that time. He helped me walk by holding my finger. I feel proud to pronounce this publicly,” Modi had then said.
Modi congratulates Fadnavis, Ajit Pawar
NEW DELHI :
PRIME Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday congratulated BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis and NCP’s Ajit Pawar on taking oath as Maharashtra’s Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister respectively and exuded confidence that the new Government will work for the State’s bright future. Taking to Twitter, Modi said, “Congratulations to @Dev_Fadnavis Ji and @AjitPawarSpeaks Ji on taking oath as the CM and Deputy CM of Maharashtra respectively. I am confident they will work diligently for the bright future of Maharashtra.” The oath was administered by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhawan to Fadnavis and Pawar. In a major development, Fadnavis on Friday morning took oath as the Chief Minister for the second consecutive term while Pawar took oath as Deputy Chief Minister of the State.
Ajit Pawar holds meet with NCP MLAs
Hours after joining hands with the BJP, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Saturday held a meet with NCP MP and two MLAs at the residence of his brother -Sriniwas Pawar here in Mumbai. NCP MP Sunil Tatkare and MLAs Dilip Walse Patil and Hasan Mushrif attended the meeting. Security has been heightened outside the residence of Sriniwas Pawar where the meeting was held. Meanwhile, NCP MLA Diliprao Bankar tweeted to confirm his support to NCP. The move came at a time when deliberations between Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena on Government formation seemingly reached the final stage on Friday.
The BJP, which emerged as the single-largest party in last month’s Assembly elections, could not stake claim to form a Government as its ally Shiv Sena remained firm on rotating the Chief Minister’s post and equal sharing of Cabinet berths.