In an embarrassment to the top leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Maharashtra is set to have an Uddhav Thackeray-led ‘Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi’ coalition government, comprising the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Congress, after Devendra Fadnavis quit as chief minister on Tuesday afternoon.
Fadnavis’ resignation came hours after the Supreme Court asked him to prove majority by 5 pm on Wednesday, and his deputy, Ajit Pawar, also quit. He was sworn in on Saturday morning at 8 am.
Thackeray, along with two deputy chief ministers and a council of ministers comprising legislators from all the three parties, will take oath of office on Thursday, November 28, at a ceremony to be held at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park. The Congress’ Balasaheb Thorat and the NCP’s Jayant Patil may be sworn in as deputy chief ministers, sources said. Legislators of the three parties met at a Mumbai hotel in the evening.
It turned out to be a day of political setbacks for the BJP in Maharashtra and at the Centre, and has brought the focus back on economic slowdown, with Parliament set to discuss it on Wednesday, while the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) will meet to approve key decisions. As news trickled in from the Supreme Court at 10.41 am that it had ordered that a floor test be completed by 5 pm on Wednesday, that it should be live telecast, and there should be no secret ballot, the BJP started showing signs of nerves.
Its criticism of the Opposition boycotting the event to mark the 70th Constitution Day at Parliament's Central Hall was muted.
The SC order also emboldened the Opposition as its MPs collected under the leadership of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, including those of the Shiv Sena, to boycott the Constitution Day celebrations at 11 am. As the day progressed, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar quit at around 2 pm. The NCP clan had been talking to him for better part of the day and eventually convinced him to return to the fold. He cited “personal reasons” in his resignation sent to Fadnavis. Fadnavis, sworn in on November 23 in an early morning ceremony, announced his resignation at a press conference at 3.30 pm, nearly 80 hours after he had taken oath.
The three-judge SC bench said that as a month had elapsed after the declaration of results of the Assembly elections, it was “incumbent upon the court to protect the democratic values” for which "immediate floor test" was the "most effective mechanism" to curtail unlawful practices, such as horse-trading as well as to avoid uncertainty and to effectuate smooth running of democracy by ensuring a stable government.
Govenor Koshyari appointed BJP MLA Kalidas Kolambkar the pro tem Speaker. Kolambkar said the oath to MLAs would be administered in the House on Wednesday. The session will begin at 8 am.
The election results were announced on October 24. The state remained under President's Rule for a period of 13 days between November 12 and November 23.