"Game Over, BJP": NCP Leader After Supreme Court's Maharashtra Verdict

Tue, 26 Nov 2019 10:54:37 +0530

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The BJP's Devendra Fadnavis took oath as Chief Minister on Saturday

It is game over for the BJP in Maharashtra, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik tweeted minutes after the Supreme Court said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis must prove his government's majority in the floor of the Assembly tomorrow. Ruling on a petition filed by the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP front that challenged the BJP's surprise government formation, the court said all 288 MLAs must be sworn in by 5 pm on Tuesday under a pro-tem speaker to be appointed immediately by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. The three-member bench also said the floor test must be recorded on video.

"Satyamev Jayate (the truth will always win), the BJP's game over," Mr Malik tweeted, in Hindi, in response to the court's ruling.

On Saturday, hours after Mr Fadnavis was sworn in, Mr Malik had declared the "illegitimate" BJP government, would fail a floor test.

Mr Malik, who was key in stitching together the Congress-NCP-Sena alliance and was part of the team that discussed a common minimum programme, had earlier alleged Ajit Pawar misused signatures of NCP MLAs taken for attendance.

Chaos broke out in Maharashtra on Saturday morning after Ajit Pawar broke away, armed with that letter, to back the BJP in its audacious bid to form the government. In a series of secretive manoeuvres President's Rule was revoked at 5.47 am and, by 8 am, Chief Minister Fadnavis was sworn in.

A furious Sena-Congress-NCP trio approached the Supreme Court on Sunday demanding an immediate floor test - a test that an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana said would be "impossible" for the BJP to win. "It is like milking a bull," it added.

The BJP, which emerged from last month's election with 105 seats in the 288-seat Assembly, needs around 40 more to reach the majority mark.

The centre argued that Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited Devendra Fadnavis to form government based on a letter showing the support of 170 MLAs, including all 54 of the NCP of Ajit Pawar, who was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister.

While Mr Fadnavis took charge on Monday, Ajit Pawar did not. The rival group of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress has submitted court documents with 154 MLA signatures and had called for an "immediate" test of strength in the Maharashtra assembly.

The role of the interim Speaker assumes much importance now. By convention, the senior most member of the assembly is interim or pro-tem Speaker.

Among the 288 members elected in last month's elections, Balasaheb Thorat is the only one serving his eighth term.

Nationalist Congress Party's Dilip Walse-Patil, Jayant Patil and Ajit Pawar, Congress's KC Padvi, BJP's Kalidas Kolambkar and Babanrao Pachpute are serving their seventh term and the Speaker of the previous Assembly and BJP leader Haribhau Bagde, NCP's Chhagan Bhujbal and BJP's Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil are serving their sixth term.

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