‘Betrayal’, ‘coup’, ‘murder of democracy’: Opposition reacts to Maharashtra development

Various Opposition leaders expressed their dismay and shock at the way all democratic procedures were thrown out of the window to swear-in BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis

Devendra Fadnavis (left) and Ajit Pawar with Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari after taking oath of office on Saturday, Nov 23, 2019.
Devendra Fadnavis (left) and Ajit Pawar with Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari after taking oath of office on Saturday, Nov 23, 2019.
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NH Web Desk

The Opposition reacted bitterly to the developments in Maharashtra where the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis was sworn-in as the chief minister by the state Governor early Saturday morning, the day NCP-Congress-Shiv Sena combine was supposed to stake claim to form the government. The three parties had already announced their intent a day before.

Various Opposition leaders expressed their dismay and shock at the way the President’s Rule was lifted from the state at 5:47 am with Prime Minister invoking his special executive powers to circumvent Cabinet approval for the same and all democratic procedures were thrown out of the window to swear-in BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis.

Fadnavis claimed to have had the support of 175 MLAs, including those of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

The Congress termed it as a “betrayal” by the BJP with the Maharashtra voters while the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) termed it as a “early morning coup” lashed out at the BJP saying its political immorality has “reached its nadir”.

“The BJP had promised to send Ajit Pawar to Arthur Road jail in an alleged Rs 72,000 crore irrigation scam. Instead the BJP has sent him to the ministry now.

If it is not the betrayal with the Maharshtra’s voters, what is?” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

He said that it is for the first time in the history of Independent India that “having torn the Constitution apart in the dark of night”, a chief minister was clandestinely administered the oath of office in the wee hours.

“The Maharashtra Governor has not acted as the guardian of the Constitution but as a hitman of (Union Home Minister and BJP chief) Amit Shah,” Surjewala said.

He termed the entire process as “loktantra ka cheer haran” (disrobing of the democratic values), alluding to an episode in Mahabharata in which Kauravas tried to publicly disrobe queen Draupadi.

The month-long political impasse in Maharashtra ended dramatically early Saturday morning with the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis taking oath as the chief minister. Ajit Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was sworn-in as the deputy chief minister.

Ajit is the nephew of NCP president Sharad Pawar.

The CPI-M termed the development as “sordid manipulation” by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for grabbing power in the state.

“The political immorality of the BJP has reached its nadir. The clandestine manner in which the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra have been sworn in shows the extent to which the BJP can stoop to grab power. This is in line with what they have done earlier in Goa, Karnataka, north eastern states etc,” the Left party said in a statement.

“It is unfortunate that both the Constitutional authorities – President’s office and the Governor’s office – have been misused to achieve their political purpose,” it added.

Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia took to Twitter to take a dig at the developments in Maharashtra.

"Abki baar - chori chhipe Sarkar (This time, a clandestine government)," he wrote, playing on the BJP’s popular election slogan “Abki baar, Modi Sarkar”.

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered oath to Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar at the Raj Bhavan after President's rule was revoked in the state at 5.47 am.

Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan shared a timeline of the “murder of democracy”.

“See this timeline to understand how the conspirators (led by their 'Chanakya') worked through the night to murder democracy in Maharashtra. Ajit Pawar, who was earlier threatened by Fadnavis to be sent to jail (& chakki pissing) was now made his deputy CM. Masterstroke Indeed!” Bhushan wrote on Twitter.

AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh hit out at Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, saying the Raj Bhavan had turned into “Raja Bhavan”.

“The role of the Governor has been reduced to that of a gatekeeper who is saluting those in power. The Raj Bhavan has turned into Raja Bhavan," he said.

Singh asked how the government was formed in Maharashtra despite the two parties not having the numbers.

"Even if the BJP's 105 MLAs and 22 MLAs (from the NCP) come together, the number still stands at 127, which is below the majority mark. The move (to form the government) is an attempt to sabotage political parties," he said.

Ajit Pawar had claimed the backing of 22 Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs.

Commenting on the development, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav said: “Ab to lagta hai ki jiska Governor uski Sarkar (It seems now that who has the Governor on his side, will form the government).”

In the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, 144 is the majority mark.

Results of the Maharashtra Assembly polls were declared on October 24 and President's rule was imposed in the state on November 12 as no party or combine had the numbers to form the government.

The state plunged into a political crisis after the Shiv Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP following the latter's refusal to share the chief minister's post.

Later, Shiv Sena joined hands with rivals NCP and Congress.

After days of talks, Sharad Pawar had said on Friday that a consensus had been reached between the three parties that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray would lead the new government in Maharashtra.

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