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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

Over to governor Koshyari in Maharashtra after Fadnavis’ resignation; multiple options open to form govt

Maharashtra governor BS Koshyari is now expected to begin the process of forming the next government in Maharashtra. The Governor’s first option is to invite the single-largest party — Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — to form the government and prove its majority on the floor of the Assembly within a stipulated time.

mumbai Updated: Nov 09, 2019 10:33 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gives his resignation to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhawan in Mumbai on Friday, November 8, 2019.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gives his resignation to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhawan in Mumbai on Friday, November 8, 2019.(ANI Photo )
         

A day before the end of the five-year tenure of the Maharashtra Assembly, chief minister (CM) Devendra Fadnavis resigned from his post on Friday and was asked by governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to act as the caretaker CM.

Koshyari is now expected to begin the process of forming the next government in Maharashtra. The Governor’s first option is to invite the single-largest party — Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — to form the government and prove its majority on the floor of the Assembly within a stipulated time.

If the BJP fails the floor test or expresses its inability to put together the required numbers, the Governor will have to go for two other options (see box).

In the Assembly of 288 members, BJP has 105 seats; Shiv Sena 56; Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) 54; Congress 44; and there are 29 legislators, who are Independents or are from smaller parties.

The BJP-Sena had a pre-poll alliance, which won a comfortable majority of 161 (more than the 145 needed for simple majority), but owing to differences over the power-sharing formula, the allies have been unable to form the government.

Following a 15-day deadlock, after the election results were announced on October 24, the possibility of a second tenure for the saffron combine looks dim.

All parties are now expecting Koshyari to invite BJP to form the government.

The Governor has to explore all options to ensure a government in the state before recommending President’s rule.

If the BJP fails to prove the majority in the stipulated time given by the governor, the second-largest party, Shiv Sena, will be asked if it has required numbers to form the government. BJP has 105 MLAs, the support of another 15 independent legislators, but needs another 25 seats to reach the majority.

In the absence of support from Sena’s 56 MLAs and given that getting support of any breakaway factions of other parties may be difficult at this stage, BJP may not be in a position to stand the floor test. In such a case, Sena may stake claim to form a three-party government with support from the Congress and NCP.

On the failure of the two options, the governor will be left with no other choice than to recommend President’s Rule in the state once it is convinced that the constitutional machinery has failed. The President’s Rule will have to be vetted by the Parliament in two months and can be imposed for six months and later extended for six months if elections cannot take place within that period.

“Actually by this time, the Governor should have called the single-largest party to form the government and completed the procedure of forming the government. The caretaker government should not last after the tenure lasted on November 9, but it’s a matter of interpretation of constitutional provisions. The Maharashtra Governor will now have to follow Supreme Court (SC) orders in various cases, while giving time to the party staking claim to form the government. According to a recent order, the Governor cannot give unreasonable time for the floor test as it could lead to horse-trading,” said Ulhas Bapat, constitutional expert.

Congress leader and former CM Ashok Chavan said the Governor has taken more time than expected in initiating a process to form the government. “By now, the governor should have invited the single-largest party to form the government. It’s been 15 days since the results of the elections were announced,” he said.

Former advocate general Shreehari Aney said the Governor has discretionary powers to decide when to call the parties to form the government. “He must have waited for the term of the incumbent government to finish,” he said.

According to government officials, Koshyari consulted legal experts and advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni over the past two days, and the Raj Bhavan is expected to begin the process of forming the government by Saturday.

According to legal experts, the formation of a new Assembly may take some more time even after its five-year term is over on November 9. “There are many instances that the new Assembly was constituted days after the previous term ended. Like in 2004, the term of the new Assembly began on November 4, two weeks after the five-year term of the previous house ended on October 19. The swearing-in of the newly elected members generally takes place after the formation of the government. But the Governor can appoint a pro tem speaker to administer oath to the MLAs if the government formation is taking place,” said an official from the law and judiciary department of the state government.