BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis was on Saturday morning sworn in as Maharashtra’s Chief Minister, forming a surprise alliance with his one-time rival—Nationalist Congress Party's Ajit Pawar—who took oath as deputy chief minister.
Newspaper headlines this morning said the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress—three parties with mismatched ideologies—had Friday night reached an agreement to form a government with Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray as the Chief Minister.
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The plot changed quickly. President's rule was revoked at 5.47 am after approval from Ram Nath Kovind and TV news channels started flashing that Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar would be sworn in at 7.50 am at the Governor’s house in Mumbai.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had Friday evening cancelled his trip to Delhi for a three-day conference—a sign that a political move was afoot, reported NDTV news channel.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his congratulations to Fadnavis minutes after the swearing-in ceremony. The NCP until Friday was in talks with the BJP’s estranged ally Shiv Sena for an alliance.
Following assembly elections in Maharashtra in October, the BJP, which emerged as the single largest party, was expected to rule the state for a second time with partner Shiv Sena. A sticking point between the parties, however, was Thackeray’s demand that the Chief Minister’s post be shared on a rotational basis -- a request the BJP denied amid a bitter fortnight of political infighting.
Shiv Sena broke ranks with its bigger partner and started discussions with the Congress party and the NCP to stitch together a coalition government. The central government imposed President’s rule while discussions were ongoing among the parties.
Minutes after the announcement that new government had been formed, NCP chief Sharad Pawar tweeted that the decision by his nephew, Ajit, to join hands with the BJP was his own and didn’t have the support of the party.
"Ajit Pawar's decision is an act of indiscipline. No NCP worker is in favour of the NCP-BJP government. NCP MLAs who support the BJP should know this move attracts provisions of anti-defection law," said Sharad Pawar at press conference he held along with Thackeray in Mumbai.
Thackeray said Maharashtra had been “betrayed and attacked”.
Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who was speaking later at a separate press conference, said the BJP had crossed the limits of "shamelessness".
BJP leader and union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad rejected the allegations. "Whatever was happening in Maharashtra has now come to an end--this is the end of Shiv Sena's treachery," he said in Delhi.