In Maharashtra, ‘Ab Ki Baar, Midnight Sarkar : Notification at 5.47 am, oath at 8 am; But floor test?

The Modi Govt, typically, worked past midnight to spring a surprise and stage the coup in Maharashtra. The President was presumably woken up at 5 am to sign the proclamation revoking President’s Rule

In Maharashtra, ‘Ab Ki Baar, Midnight Sarkar : Notification at 5.47 am, oath at 8 am; But floor test?

NH Web Desk

Even at Noon on Saturday, there was no clarity when the new Maharashtra Government will prove its majority on the floor of the House and how much time the Raj Bhavan has given Devendra Fadnavis to muster a majority.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that the Assembly is likely to be convened on November 29 or 30, giving the government one whole week to flex its muscles. But the Raj Bhavan’s Twitter handle remained silent on the question.

Questions meanwhile are being asked about the Governor’s conduct. What is still not clear is :

1. When did the Governor send his recommendation ? And how did he satisfy himself ?

2. When did the President approve this ?

3. When did Devendra Fadnavis actually stake his claim ?

4. And why did the Governor not wait to examine the pros and cons before administering the oath of office to Fadnavis in a tearing hurry?

The earlier report :

Although public memory is short, people might recall that Maharashtra Governor B.S. Koshiyari had recommended President’s Rule in Maharashtra earlier this month after having satisfied himself that no party was in a position to provide a stable government.

While the Governor had first waited for over two weeks after the results were declared and then allowed BJP 48 hours to show its intent and ability to form a government, he did not allow the Shiv Sena more than 24 hours, refused to give an extension and recommended President’s Rule.

Now, in less than 12 hours, in the darkness of the night, the Governor satisfied himself that BJP and a break away group from the NCP had the majority ! President’s Rule was revoked at 5.40 am on Saturday and Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as chief minister for the second term by 8 am.

Those, who had been crying foul over the ‘immoral’ and ópportunistic’ alliance emerging between the Shiv Sena-NCP and the Congress, are unlikely to find anything immoral or opportunistic in the new power equation in the state.

While the political debate now centres on whether the Shiv Sena will also split and whether the Governor’s decision is likely to be challenged in the apex court ---it is significant that the development has taken place on a Saturday---it was known all along that two NCP leaders, Praful Patel and Ajit Pawar were under pressure to align with the BJP. Both faced inquiries by the CBI and the ED and Centre wielded the stick, reported the media. Even Sharad Pawar had been sent a notice by the ED before the assembly election.

But overriding all this is the arbitrary role of the Governor.

According to the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations, a Governor must follow the following order of precedence in invitations to break a logjam in government formation:

1. An alliance of parties that was formed prior to the Elections.

2. The largest single party staking a claim to form the government with the support of others, including “independents.”

3. A post-electoral coalition of parties, with all the partners in the coalition joining the Government.

4. A post-electoral alliance of parties, with some of the parties in the alliance forming a Government and the remaining parties, including “independents” supporting the Government from outside.

The four press releases issued by the Governor since 9 November 2019, had not specified if the pre-poll alliance of BJP and Shiv Sena were jointly invited in order to satisfy the first stage. The individual invitations to the BJP, Shiv Sena and the NCP would have constituted adequate fulfilment of the second stage. Since there was no definite existence of any formal ‘post-electoral coalition’, the third stage was ruled out by the Governor. The Fourth scenario is now being played out.

The Sarkaria Commission report stated that a political crisis may arise when:

· “After a General Election no party or coalition of parties or groups is able to secure an absolute majority in the Legislative Assembly, and, despite exploration of all possible alternatives by the Governor, a situation emerges in which there is complete demonstrated inability to form a government commanding confidence of the Legislative Assembly.”

Complete, demonstrated inability’, being the key-phrase does not pass muster when tested against the widely available reports of not just the INC and NCP, but also certain Independent MLAs extending support to the current claimant. The ‘inability’, if at all has not fully been ‘demonstrated’ and is certainly not ‘complete’.

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Published: 23 Nov 2019, 9:50 AM