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Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

Maharashtra under central rule after President signs off on Cabinet recommendation

The recommendation of the cabinet finalised at its hurriedly convened meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed report by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari earlier in the day that “the government of the state of Maharashtra cannot be carried on in accordance with the constitution”.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2019 21:12 IST
Sunetra Choudhury
Sunetra Choudhury
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the Union Cabinet’s recommendation to impose President’s rule in Maharashtra
President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the Union Cabinet’s recommendation to impose President’s rule in Maharashtra(PTI Photo)
         

President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday signed off on Cabinet’s recommendation to place Maharashtra under central rule after a fortnight-long political impasse in the state. The recommendation of the cabinet at its hurriedly-convened meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed a report by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari that “the government of the state of Maharashtra cannot be carried on in accordance with the constitution”.

The Shiv Sena, which has already moved the Supreme Court against the Governor giving the party only 24 hours to form the government, has said it will move the Supreme Court against the presidential order too.

The Shiv Sena, which had teamed up with the Bharatiya Janata Party for last month’s assembly elections, walked out of the alliance after the BJP rejected demands that it share the chief minister’s position.

WATCH | President’s rule imposed in Maharashtra amid Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena talks

Governor Koshyari had last week given the BJP, which had emerged as the single largest party with 105 seats in the 288-member assembly, the first chance to stake claim to form the government. The BJP was given three days.

When the BJP declined to take up the offer, Raj Bhavan asked the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, the second largest party, if it would be willing and able to form the government. The Shiv Sena, which had already opened a back channel with Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress, was more than willing but slipped on the 24-hour deadline to produce evidence of support from its two potential allies. It did ask for more time to come back with letters of support but the request was firmly rejected.

Governor Koshyari quickly summoned the NCP next to check with Sharad Pawar’s party if it could form the government. It also was given a 24-hour deadline; the clock started ticking at 8.30 pm on Tuesday.

But a communication from Ajit Pawar, the NCP legislative party chief, to Raj Bhavan around noon triggered the governor’s adverse report. In this, the NCP sought more time to complete discussions for government formation.

By then, Ajit Pawar had already told reporters that he did not think that it would be possible to finalise the alliance between the three parties ahead of the 8.30 pm deadline.

Sonia Gandhi did phone NCP boss Sharad Pawar and send the Congress’ three top leaders led by Ahmed Patel to Mumbai to firm up the details. But that trip came a little too late, for now.

According to reports, Governor Koshyari had a quick round of discussions with legal experts before sending his recommendation to the central government to impose central rule.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was to leave for Brazil to attend the BRICS Summit, squeezed the last-minute cabinet meeting into his schedule before take-off. “His special flight was eventually delayed by about 15 minutes,” a government functionary later told HT.