Amidst the political stalemate continuing in Maharashtra, the President Ram Nath Kovind imposed Presidential Rule in the state under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution. The Maharashtra Governor, Bhagat Singh Koshyari had recommended the presidential rule in the afternoon even as several hours remaining for the NCP to prove its majority.
The result of the recent assembly elections in Maharashtra produced a fractured mandate, with no single party getting simple majority. BJP emerged as the single largest party with 105 seats in the 288-member Assembly. The Sena, with 56 seats, came second, while the NCP and the Congress won 54 and 44 seats.
After the results were declared on October 24, in a surprising turnaround, the Shiv Sena withdrew from its alliance with BJP, leaving the scene open.
There was no consensus among Shiv Sena, NCP or Congress even by Monday night. But Shiv Sena moved Supreme Court against the governor’s decision to not give it time to prove majority. It called the Governer’s action “ex facie arbitrary and malafide” and part of a “well-concerted plan of the BJP to invoke Article 356”. Now that the President rule has been imposed, it would challenge the decision. The petition is likely be filed on Wednesday,
The Congress too questioned the Governer’s action. Three senior leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and K.C. Venugopal were flown down from Delhi to Mumbai to meet Sharad Pawar, the NCP chief. It was indicated after the meeting that the two parties were keen on going ahead with the Sena. But now that the President’s rule is imposed, there is every chance that the BJP would indulge in horse trading to prove its majority.
The Governor has been severely criticised. But the Constitution has granted crucial powers to the governor to take the final call. According to Article 163 and 164, if any situation arises whereby the governor is by or under Constitution required to act in his discretion, the decision taken by him shall be final and that the validity of anything done by the governor must not be called in question. But in most cases the dominant party (here the BJP) gets the favour.
Various political leaders have questioned the arbitrary timing set by the Governor Koshyari. “This is unashamedly dishonest and politically motivated,” Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep SinghSurjewala said.
CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury too criticised the Governer.