NEW DELHI: Maharashtra was placed under President’s Rule on Tuesday after a report from Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to the centre that none of the three parties he had invited since Saturday – BJP, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – could produce enough numbers to stake claim to power even 20 days after the October 24 state election results.
The Governor sent the report after the NCP spoke to him at 11 am, hours before its 8.30 pm deadline, and asked for more time.
Raj Bhavan Press Release 12.11.2019 3.16 PM pic.twitter.com/qmlQA6ghBR
— Governor of Maharashtra (@maha_governor) November 12, 2019
Soon after, the Union Cabinet on Tuesday also recommended President’s rule in Maharashtra. The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, met in Delhi this afternoon to discuss the political impasse in Maharashtra and decided to recommend to the President to impose Central rule in the state.
(1) Maharashtra Awaits Conclusion Of Deliberations Within Congress And NCP
(2) Shiv Sena FAILS To Present Numbers; Governor Invites NCP To Form Govt By 8:30 PM Tuesday
(3) Shiv Sena-NCP Government Formation Put In Motion; Arvind Sawant Resigns From Modi Govt
Soon after receiving the recommendation from the Union Cabinet, President Ram Nath Kovind signed the proclamation for the imposition of central rule in Maharashtra, hours after the Union Cabinet reportedly recommended clamping of President’s rule in Maharashtra.
Of course, the development does not mean that it is the end of the road for the contenders:
President Rule in Maharashtra is NOT the end of the road to form Govt. Even during President Rule, a party or an alliance can show at any time that it is able to form Govt, after which President Rule can be lifted. #presidentrule is only a temporary measure.
— Dr. Ashok Dhamija (@ashokdhamija) November 12, 2019
Under Article 352 of the Constitution, President’s Rule can only be imposed in a state where constitutional machinery has failed. Non-formation of an elected government is interpreted as a failure of constitutional machinery in a state.
The President’s Rule in a state is for six months, but it can be withdrawn if a party or parties manage to prove majority.
President’s rule in Maharashtra..
1. 17 February 1980 to 8 June 1980 (112 days)
2. 28 September 2014 to 31 October 2014 (33 days)
3. 12 November 2019 to ???#presidentrule
— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) November 12, 2019
Interestingly, President’s Rule was recommended even as senior Congress leaders were in the process of arriving in Mumbai to meet the NCP leadership to discuss support to the Shiv Sena:
Mumbai: Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel and KC Venugopal arrive at YB Chavan centre for a meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar. President’s Rule has been imposed in the state of #Maharashtra. pic.twitter.com/OAjkhuxsX6
— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2019
The NCP of Sharad Pawar received an invite last evening after the Shiv Sena failed to get a three-day extension to stake claim. The Sena has gone to the Supreme Court against the Governor’s refusal to give it more time.
The expensive game of musical chairs that led to the imposition of President Rule in Maharashtra:
- The Shiv Sena’s attempts to form a government with its sworn rivals NCP and Congress reached a dead-end yesterday after a call from Congress president Sonia Gandhi gave a glimmer of hope to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
- At the last minute, when the Shiv Sena was to meet the Governor with letters of support, the Congress said it had taken no decision and would have discussions with NCP chief Sharad Pawar. “From 10 am to 7:30 pm on Monday, our leaders including Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel were waiting for (Congress’s) letter,” said NCP’s Ajit Pawar, Sharad Pawar’s nephew.
- The Shiv Sena went to the Supreme Court complaining that the Governor had refused to grant it even an extra day even though the BJP was given two days to prove its numbers. Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, a Congress leader, is representing the Sena.
- Sonia Gandhi sent her top party leaders to Mumbai for discussions on government formation after speaking to Sharad Pawar on the phone this morning. The Congress leaders had earlier put off their visit. Ajit Pawar had told media persons that his uncle Sharad Pawar had been asked to meet Sonia Gandhi in Delhi instead. Mr Pawar had declined, citing a meeting of NCP MLAs in Mumbai.
- Though Congress MLAs in Maharashtra favour forming a government with the Sena, the party leadership, especially Sonia Gandhi, is extremely wary of a tie-up with an ideologically different party, a traditional enemy and one with which it was in direct contest with in Mumbai and many regions in Maharashtra in the polls. The Congress is also concerned that the Sena’s divorce with the BJP, its partner of nearly 30 years, may not be permanent.
- The Shiv Sena yesterday pulled out its only minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government at the centre to signal its exit from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The Sena’s separation from the BJP was the NCP’s prerequisite for talks between the Maharashtra rivals for a non-BJP alliance.
- The NCP says it will not take any step without its ally Congress. “Whatever decision will be taken collectively, so we were waiting for Congress response yesterday but it didn’t come, we can’t decide on it alone. There is no misunderstanding, we are together. The Congress is taking time because we didn’t contest with the Shiv Sena,” said Ajit Pawar.
- The Congress says it was Sharad Pawar who wanted more time. Sources say Mr Pawar told Sonia Gandhi yesterday that there was a need to discuss the contours of support to the Sena. “NCP is just two seats short of Sena,” Mr Pawar reportedly pointed out, indicating a rethink on whether the Sena should have a full term for its chief minister.
- On Saturday, as the term of the Maharashtra legislative assembly ended without any resolution, Governor Koshyari invited the BJP to form the government. But the BJP opted out of the race accusing the Sena of “betraying the people’s mandate”.
- The BJP won 105 seats in the Maharashtra polls and the Sena 56, which placed them comfortably ahead of the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member assembly. But the allies fell out over Sena’s demand for rotational chief ministership, in a “50:50” deal it said was discussed with BJP chief Amit Shah. With the NCP’s 54 seats and the Congress’s 44, the Sena will have 154 MLAs on its side. Congress MLAs remain at a resort in Rajasthan’s Jaipur as the leadership wants to avoid a repeat of Goa, where its members crossed over to the BJP.
The Shiv Sena, which was trying to form a coalition government with the support of the NCP and the Congress, has moved the Supreme Court against the governor’s refusal to grant more time for government formation, party leaders indicated.