The brewing political drama in Maharashtra has reached at the doorstep of the Supreme Court with Centre being asked to produce the letter of the Governor inviting Devendra Fadnavis and also the letters of support used by the Bharatiya Janata Party leader staking his claim. The top court has asked the Solicitor General to produce the letters at 10.30 am for passing orders. A bench headed by Justice NV Ramana and comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjeev Khanna will decide on taking the requests in the petition of Congress, NCP, and Shiv Sena on immediate floor test after examining the letters.
A day after Fadnavis returned as the chief minister, the Shiv Sena claimed that the Sena-NCP-Congress combine has a support of 165 MLAs and can comfortably prove its majority in the Assembly. The BJP also claimed that Fadnavis had the support of 170 MLAs. The majority mark in a House of 288 is 145.
In an unprecedented special hearing on a Sunday, the bench, however, rejected the plea by the 3-party combine to direct the Fadnavis government to undertake the floor test within 24 hours, saying this issue would be dealt with only after perusing the two letters.
According to BJP leader Ashish Shelar, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has given time till November 30 to the new government to prove its majority on the floor of the House.
During the 30-minute hearing that began at 11.30 am in a packed courtroom, the apex court said the plea of the post-poll alliance, ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’, seeking a direction to the Governor to invite them to form a government under the leadership of Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray would not be considered for the present.
Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were sworn in by Koshyari at 8 am on Saturday at a hush-hush ceremony in Raj Bhavan in Mumbai after dramatic midnight developments, leading to the lifting of the President’s rule. The BJP was propped up by NCP’s Ajit Pawar who revolted against his party headed by his uncle Sharad Pawar. Ajit Pawar was made the deputy chief minister.
The top court also issued notices to the Centre, Maharashtra government, Fadnavis, and Ajit Pawar on the petition filed on Saturday night by the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress combine against the Governor’s decision to swear in the BJP leader as the chief minister.
Ajit Pawar, meanwhile, set the political circles abuzz with his statement that he is still with the NCP and that Sharad Pawar continued to be his leader. Sharad Pawar for his part said, there is no question of forming an alliance with the BJP. “Ajit Pawar’s statement is false, misleading and aimed at creating confusion, false perception among people.”
“As adjudication of the issues and also the interim prayers sought by the petitioners to conduct floor test within 24 hours has to be considered after perusing the order of the Governor as well as the letters submitted by Devendra Fadnavis even though none appeared for the state government, we request Tushar Mehta to produce those two letters by tomorrow morning at 10.30 AM when the matter will be taken up, so that appropriate order will be passed,” the top court said. Tushar Mehta, who was in the court, is the Solicitor General.
The bench also rejected Mehta’s strong pleas seeking two days time to place the Governor’s communication on record
As the NCP, the Congress and the Shiv Sena shifted their MLAs to three luxury hotels in Mumbai, the rival alliances claimed majority support. Security was tightened outside the hotels to thwart any poaching attempts, police said.
“The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress (together) have 165 MLAs. If the governor calls for an identification parade, in 10 minutes we can prove our majority,” Sena leader Sanjay Raut told reporters.
Talking to reporters, BJP’s Ashish Shelar claimed that Fadnavis has the support of more than 170 MLAs and the BJP government will prove its majority on the floor of the House. He did not elaborate.
In the 288-member Assembly, BJP is the single largest party with 105 MLAs, followed by Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress party having 56, 54 and 44 members respectively.
With PTI Inputs