Political musical chairs in Maha continue; NCP gets time till 8.30am today to convey its ‘willingness and ability’ to form Govt
In a new twist to the ongoing game of political musical chairs in Maharashtra, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Monday night eliminated the Shiv Sena from the Government formation exercise after it staked a claim to form a Government but failed to submit letters of support from the NCP and the Congress.
Late in the night, the Governor called a delegation of NCP leaders for consultation. During the meeting, the Governor handed a letter to the NCP leaders asking their party to indicate its “willingness and ability” to form the next Government in the State by 8.30 pm on Tuesday.
After meeting the Governor, State NCP president Jayant Patil said, “As per the procedure, the Governor has given us a letter being the third single largest party in Maharashtra. We have suggested to him that we will have to talk to our alliance partner. We have assured him that we will get back to him as early as possible.”
NCP president Sharad Pawar and central Congress leaders will hold talks on Tuesday on the Governor’s letter. Given that the combined strength of the two parties is 98 and they are 47 MLAs short of the magic figure of 145 in the 288-member Assembly, they cannot on their own stake a claim to form a Government.
It remains to be seen if the NCP and the Congress will seek the support of the Shiv Sena to form a Government. If the two parties do approach the Sena, will the Sena extend its support to the NCP and the Congress? Lending support to the NCP-Congress means the Sena forfeiting its much-discussed claim on the Chief Minister’s post, a post for which the Sena sacrificed its 30-year-long (albeit of an interrupted nature in 2014) alliance with the BJP.
Secondly, the Sena will have to play the second fiddle to the NCP-Congress alliance if it chooses to be a part of the three-party Government. Will the NCP-Congress alliance take the risk of running a Government with an aggressive Sena, which is ideologically different from the two parties?
On his part, the Governor is going through with the motions of exhausting Constitutional options. Once he is through with the process, will he recommend President’s rule in the State? This is a question that is bothering all the political parties in the State.
Despite indicating that they would extend their support to the Sena to form a Government, the NCP and Congress remained non-committal on the issue till Monday.
Though Pawar held several rounds of talks with his party leaders, he refrained from saying anything on extending support to the Sena all through the day. The NCP’s refrain was that it was waiting for an official word from the Congress leadership.
After a Sena delegation met the Governor for staking claim to form a Government, the Congress issued a brief Press release which said, “The Congress Working Committee met this morning and had a detailed discussion on the situation in Maharashtra, after which a consultation was held with Maharashtra Congress leaders. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has spoken to Sharad Pawar. The party will have further discussions with the NCP.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray spoke on the phone with Congress Interim president Sonia to discuss Government formation. Ud also met with Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar at a five-star hotel in Mumbai. Later in the evening, the Shiv Sena virtually forfeited an opportunity to form a Government after they failed to produce letters of support from the NCP and Congress which, it claimed, had in principle extended their support to it form a government.
Much to the Sena’s disappointment, the Governor declined to give three days’ extension to it to submit letters of support from the NCP and Congress, thus once again plunging Maharashtra into a state of uncertainty.
“A delegation of leaders of Sena met the Governor and expressed their willingness to form the Government. However, they could not submit the requisite letters of support. Further, they submitted a letter requesting for three days of extension of the deadline for submitting the letters of support. The Governor expressed his inability to give further extension,” a statement issued by Raj Bhavan said.
Talking to media persons after meeting the Governor and “staking a claim” to form the Government, Yuv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray said, “Yesterday evening at around 7.30 pm, our legislature party leader Eknath Shinde received a letter from the Governor asking us indicate its “willingness and ability” to form the next government in the state.
Despite the indications to the contrary available from both the parties all through the day, the NCP and Congress did not give their letters of support either directly to the Sena or send them across to Raj Bhavan, before the Sena. But, till this afternoon, the BJP did not give us its letter of support to us. We have started talking to two other parties (NCP and Congress). The two parties have in principle agreed to support us in the larger interests of Maharashtra. The talks have begun between them as well”.
“Since our deadline ( to get back to the Governor) was 7.30 pm, we arrived at Raj Bhavan at 6.45 pm. We told the Governor that we are willing to form the Government. We have staked our claim to form the Government. Though we were given 24 hours time to express our willingness to form the Government, we have got back to the Governor in 23 hours and submitted the letters signed by our party MLAs.
“In the case of two other party, they will have to obtain signatures from their MLAs. This procedure will take at least two days. Hence we requested the Governor to extend the deadline by three days. However, the Governor rejected our request. But, I can tell you one thing: the Governor has not rejected our claim. It stands. He has only rejected additional time sought by us,” Aditya said.
“We will come back and give letters of support to the Government. I do not know what next course of action to be taken by the Governor — whether he will invite the third single largest party or recommend to Rashtrapati Bhavan about the imposition of the President’s rule in the state. All the same our efforts to form the next government will continue,” the Yuv Sena president said.
Tuesday, 12 November 2019 | TN Raghunatha | Mumbai
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