High Voltage Drama

ST CORRESPONDENT / AGENCIES
Sunday, 24 November 2019

The surprise swearing-in is being described as a political masterstroke of Sharad Pawar, who on Thursday night had said there was a consensus among the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress and the Shiv Sena that Uddhav Thackeray should lead the new government in Maharashtra. 

MUMBAI:  In a day of dramatic political developments and several twists and turns, the month-long political impasse in Maharashtra finally ended on Saturday with Devendra Fadnavis returning as the Chief Minister, backed by opposition party Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) Assembly leader Ajit Pawar, who was sworn-in as Deputy Chief Minister. 

Some NCP MLAs were called by Ajit Pawar to participate in this ceremony giving rise to speculations over whether he is breaking away from his uncle, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar. 

In the evening, Sharad Pawar called a meeting of NCP MLAs where around 50 MLAs out of the 54 were present and said that they still remain with Sharad Pawar. 
 
Before the swearing-in happened,  the President’s rule that was imposed in the State about a fortnight ago was revoked at 5.47 am. According to a Home Ministry notification, President Ram Nath Kovind signed the proclamation for revocation of the Central rule this morning. The gazette notification to this effect was issued by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla at 5.47 am.

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered the oath at the Raj Bhavan here at around 7.30 am. 

Blaming the Shiv Sena for disrespecting the people’s mandate in last month’s Assembly polls, Fadnavis said, “People had given us a clear mandate, but Shiv Sena tried to ally with other parties after the results, after which the President’s rule was imposed. Maharashtra needed a stable government, not a ‘khichdi’ government.” 

Ajit Pawar backed the BJP and with the support of Independent lawmakers and smaller parties, the saffron party decided to stake claim to form the government, he said. After being sworn-in as the Deputy Chief Minister, Ajit Pawar said, “From the day the (poll) results were declared on October 24, no party was able to form the government. Maharashtra was facing many problems, including farmers’ issues. So we decided to form a stable government.” 

The surprise swearing-in is being described as a political masterstroke of Sharad Pawar, who on Thursday night had said there was a consensus among the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress and the Shiv Sena that Uddhav Thackeray should lead the new government in Maharashtra. 

In New Delhi, the BJP on Saturday asserted that it had the ‘electoral and moral’ mandate to form a government in Maharashtra and brushed aside the criticism of its alliance with NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who was accused by the saffron party in the past of corruption, saying the tie-up was guided by the ‘given situation’. BJP leader and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit out at the Congress-NCP and the Shiv Sena, saying those who were ‘dead opposed’ to each other joined hands to ‘grab’ power, while the saffron party and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had won the popular mandate to form a government.

Addressing a press conference, he said the Maharashtra governor took the decision to swear-in Fadnavis and Pawar as the chief minister and the deputy chief minister after both leaders, as the heads of their respective legislative parties, gave the letters of support of their MLAs. The governor had no counter-claim by any other party or alliance, he said.

In their reaction, the Congress sounded harsh. Terming the swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra chief minister a ‘black chapter’ in India’s history, the Congress on Saturday said the BJP acted as a ‘contract killer’ of democracy and the governor once again proved to be BJP Chief Amit Shah’s ‘hitman’. Addressing a press conference, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that an ‘opportunist’ Ajit Pawar, the NCP leader who has joined hands with the saffron party, was ‘scared’ by the BJP of being put behind bars. “The BJP and Ajit Pawar have acted like Duryodhan and Shakuni to rip off and cheat a democratic mandate given by the people of Maharashtra. They have betrayed the people,” he said.

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