NCP leader Ajit Pawar’s late-night dash to BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis house in Mumbai on Sunday led to speculations about another pincer movement by the BJP against the newly formed Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP combine.
However, a tweet by the office of Devendra Fadnavis, who took oath as Chief Minister of Maharashtra for a second term in a surprise ceremony just after sunrise on Saturday, put the speculations to rest. The late-night meeting with his deputy Ajit Pawar was not about government formation, according to the tweet.
“CM Devendra Fadnavis and DCM Ajit Pawar today met and discussed on various measures for additional support and assistance to unseasonal rain affected farmers. Tomorrow it will be further discussed with the Chief Secretary and Finance Secretary,” Mr Fadnavis’ office tweeted.
CM @Dev_Fadnavis and DCM @AjitPawarSpeaks today met and discussed on various measures for additional support assistance to unseasonal rain affected farmers. Tomorrow it will be further discussed with the Chief Secretary Finance Secretary.
– CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) November 24, 2019
On the day the two leaders whose parties fought as opponents in the assembly elections – Sharad Pawar’s NCP and the Congress fought together while the BJP and Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena teamed up – took oath at the Governor’s office, Mr Fadnavis had cited farm distress in Maharashtra as one of the important factors that needed attention, which led the BJP to move swiftly to try to form government.
“Maharashtra needed a stable government, not a khichidi shaasan (mishmash government),” Mr Fadnavis said after being sworn in as Chief Minister for the second time, adding that the Shiv Sena “did not follow people’s mandate”. “I thank NCP and Ajit Pawar for supporting us,” he added, on a deputy he had often criticised for corruption.
“From the day the results were announced to this day…. no party was able to form the government. Maharashtra was facing many issues, including farmer issues. So we decided to form a stable government,” Mr Fadnavis said.
The NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena did not buy it. They accused the BJP of desperation to form government and using unconventional methods that could set a precedent harmful to the democratic process.
The Shiv Sena’s troubleshooter Sanjay Raut alleged that Ajit Pawar, who faces corruption investigations, had been “blackmailed” and the details would be “exposed” soon. He also accused Ajit Pawar of “stabbing the Sena in the back”.
The street battles between the new alliance of the Nationalist Congress Party, the Congress and its ideological opposite Shiv Sena reached the Supreme Court on Monday, with the court telling the centre to show the letters of Mr Fadnavis claiming majority and that of the Governor inviting to form government. The letters have to be submitted by 10.30 am today.
The three parties have herded their MLAs at separate hotels in Mumbai to secure them from being poached.
In the assembly election, the BJP won 105 seats, the Shiv Sena 56, while the NCP, Congress and others have 102 seats in the 288-member assembly. The BJP and the Shiv Sena couldn’t come to an agreement on power-sharing. The Sena demanded equal power-share under what it called was a “50:50 formula” discussed with BJP chief Amit Shah earlier this year, before the national election in May. According to the Sena, the plan was for chief ministers from each party sharing the five-year term equally.
The impasse led to imposition of the President’s Rule, until it was removed on Saturday morning to pave the way for the oath-taking ceremony of Mr Fadnavis and his new deputy Ajit Pawar, whose uncle Sharad Pawar heads the NCP.
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