Maharashtra has been placed under the President’s rule after Ram Nath Kovind signed off on the recommendation of Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Tuesday following the Union Cabinet recommendation for the same, even as top leaders from the NCP, the Congress and the Shiv Sena held a flurry of consultations in a bid to tot up the numbers and resolve the impasse over government formation in the state.
President Ram Nath Kovind has signed a proclamation imposing President's rule in Maharashtra, they said adding the Assembly will remain in suspended animation. In his report, the governor said a situation has arisen that a stable government is not possible even after 15 days of election results being declared, according to officials. He said that all efforts have been made to form a government but he saw no probability that a stable government could be formed.
The governor noted that he is satisfied that governance of the state cannot be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and he is left with no alternative and is constrained to send a report on the provision of Article 356, the officials said.
As per a statement tweeted by Koshyari's office: "He is satisfied that the government cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution, (and therefore) has today submitted a report as contemplated by provision of Article 356 of the Constitution." Article 356, commonly known as President's rule, deals with 'failure of constitutional machinery in the state'.
The Union Cabinet on Tuesday also recommended President's rule in Maharashtra where no political party has been able to form a government after the Assembly polls last month. Sources said 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.
An angry Shiv Sena, which was trying to cobble together a non-BJP government with support from the NCP and the Congress, moved the Supreme Court challenging the governor's decision on Monday to not grant it the three days to submit the letter of support for government formation in the state, but failed to get an urgent hearing.
"The Supreme Court has asked us to mention the writ petition at 10.30 am on Wednesday before the court," Advocate Sunil Fernandes, who filed the petition on behalf of the Shiv Sena, told PTI. He said a second petition challenging the imposition of President's rule in the state is being readied.
"The decision on when to file it (fresh petition) will be taken tomorrow," he said. In its petition, the party termed the governor's decision "unconstitutional, unreasonable, discriminatory, capricious and mala fide".
The Congress was scathing too with its chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hitting out at the governor and the BJP-led Centre saying their had not only played a "cruel joke" on democracy, but had also trampled upon constitutional practices with their actions.
He also questioned the Maharashtra governor for the "arbitrary" allotment of time to the NCP, Shiv Sena and the BJP to prove support for government formation.
"The governor and rulers in Delhi have done a grave injustice to the afflicted farmers and the common people of Maharashtra," he said "This is unashamedly dishonest & politically motivated," Surjewala said on the governor's report. The Shiv Sena had suffered a setback in its efforts to form a non-BJP government in Maharashtra on Monday with the Congress at the last moment announcing its decision to hold more talks with ally NCP on supporting the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.
Congress'S Kapil Sibal, who will represent the Shiv Sena in the apex court, told reporters that the Maharashtra governor is working on the directions of the BJP-led central government and alleged that President's rule has been imposed to facilitate horse-trading. "That is the whole purpose of the exercise.
Allow President's rule, give sufficient time to yourself and then use money power, get others legislators on board. This is misuse of authority and highly immoral," he said. After the Congress-NCP meeting on Tuesday evening, Uddhav Thackeray said the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP will work out a formula for formation of a government. He said the Sena had contacted the Congress and the NCP for first time on November 11 and his party also needs a clarity on the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) just like them.
Asked whether he has officially broken the alliance with the BJP, Thackeray said, "If it is broken, it is by them and not me. They lied and tried to prove me a liar."
He reiterated that sharing the CM's post was decided before the assembly polls, but the BJP did not honour this commitment. "It is not true Hindutva when you are in favour of Ram temple, but break promise," Thackeray said. Taking a jibe at the governor, he said, "We had asked for 48 hrs but the Governor gave us six months (to form government)".
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had earlier spoken to Sharad Pawar on the phone and had authorised Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Venugopal to hold discussions with the NCP chief on the issue of forming the state government. Gandhi also held talks with the party's core team members AK Antony and Venugopal at her residence.
Patel is also learnt to have spoken to Pawar over working out modalities with the NCP on government formation. In the midst of the ongoing political drama, Thackeray and Pawar separately met Sena leader Sanjay Raut at Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital where the latter underwent an angioplasty procedure.
Raut had led the Sena's charge for equal share in power with the BJP after the Assembly poll results in Maharashtra. But that did not work and the alliance came undone. The ailing leader quoted poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan to reaffirm his party's resolve to succeed and not give up.
"Lehron se dar kar nauka paar nahi hoti, himmat karne waalon ki kabhi haar nahi hoti" (the boat that qualms the waves never gets across, those who dare do not lose). The 57-year-old Rajya Sabha member also tweeted, "Hum honge kamyaab, zaroor honge" (We would succeed, definitely).
The president has, meanwhile, accepted the resignation of Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant from the Union council of ministers. Sawant had on Monday announced his resignation from the Union cabinet, saying it would not be proper to continue as a union minister when a new government is being formed in Maharashtra.
(With PTI inputs)