INDIA: SC to hear Sena-Congress-NCP plea on Maharashtra floor test on Sunday

‘Unconstitutional, arbitrary, illegal, void-ab-initio and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India’

New Delhi (IANS): The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition by Shiv Sena-Congress-National Congress Party seeking a floor test within 24 hours to avoid horse-trading and “illegal manoeuvres” in Maharashtra at 11.30 a.m. on Sunday.

The petitioners moved the apex court on Saturday evening seeking an urgent hearing following which the court authorities confirmed a hearing on the petition at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.

The SC bench hearing the petition would comprise Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Sanjiv Khanna.

The petition sought quashing of Maharasthra Governor B.S. Koshyari’s decision to invite BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis to form the government on Saturday morning as unconstitutional, arbitrary, illegal, void-ab-initio and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

In a stunning political development, Governor Koshyari on Saturday morning administered the oath of office to Fadnavis as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra and NCP leader Ajit Pawar as his deputy.

“The petitioners are praying for an immediate floor test within 24 hours so as to avoid further horse-trading and illegal manoeuvres to somehow cobble up a majority from the Maha Vikas Aghadi,” said the petition.

Terming the Governor’s decision as a “brazen action”, the petition sought the apex court’s direction to Koshyari to invite the alliance of Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP “which has the support of more than 144 MLAs to form the government under the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray”.

The Sena insisted that the Governor has installed a minority BJP government which was illegal, unconstitutional and in violation of the well-settled law laid down by the top court.

It said its political alliance constitutes a clear majority in the House. “It is submitted that such manoeuvring, at the behest of the BJP through the Governor to suit their political agenda, actually amounts to a death knell on democracy which is a basic feature of our Constitution,” said the petition.

AICC General Secretary K.C. Venugopal said in a statement on Saturday that it was more than apparent that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders were directly involved in the “murder of democracy”.

Venugopal’s remarks came after Maharashtra Governor B.S. Koshyari on Saturday morning administered the oath of office to Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar as his deputy.

“Developments since morning indicate that the BJP will get a huge setback soon for the political horse-trading they have orchestrated in Maharashtra. The Congress will fight against this brutal murder of democracy violating all democratic and constitutional norms,” Venugopal said.

He said that only a few NCP MLAs have fallen in the trap of the BJP. This unholy and corrupt political alliance will fall before long, Venugopal said in the statement, adding that the illegally installed BJP government in Maharashtra will have to step down.

The Congress leader insisted that BJP had shown deplorable political immorality to grab power at any cost and the Congress will fight against this illegal and corrupt political treachery carried out by misusing power and violating all Constitutional provisions.

“Unable to prove majority, Devendra Fadnavis will have to step down shamefully after the floor test in the House,” Venugopal said.

Describing the unfolding of events on Saturday, Venugopal said that was shameful that the President and the Governor stooped to the standard of RSS workers to facilitate this dissolute political treachery.

“The Chief Minister was sworn-in disgracefully under the cover of darkness. Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar met the Governor only last night and consequently the President’s rule was withdrawn without having a cabinet meeting. The Governor invited Fadnavis without having any clear clue on the numbers they have,” the Congress leader said.

IN a drastic action capping the day’s political turmoil, the Nationalist Congress Party on Saturday evening sacked rebel legislator Ajit Pawar as NCP Legislature Party chief in Maharashtra and replaced him with its state President Jayant Patil.

A party meeting in which NCP President Sharad Pawar, top leaders and legislators were present, also resolved that all powers of Ajit Pawar to issue a whip and function as the NCP Legislature Party chief have been withdrawn with immediate effect.

In his place, Jayant Patil will be the new NCP Legislature Party leader and take all other decisions pertaining in the matter.

As an additional precaution, the party took the signatures of all the present newly-elected NCP MLAs, along with their names, endorsing the unanimous decisions.

Ajit Pawar was appointed to the coveted post on October 30, a week after the election results were announced on October 24.

At that time, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena were engaged in a bitter tug-of-war over the post of CM, which ultimately led to the collapse of their pre-election alliance, pushing the Sena to explore new political avenues with the Congress-NCP.

The developments within the NCP came barely 12 hours after Ajit Pawar abruptly joined hands with the BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, which resulted in political mayhem in the state.