Devendra Fadnavis Takes Over As Chief Minister, SC would declare its decision tomorrow
The Devendra Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar duo took charge in Maharashtra today and won another day to rally numbers as the Supreme Court, after an 80-minute hearing, said it would declare its decision tomorrow on a petition challenging the surprise government formation by the BJP on Saturday morning. The centre argued that Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited Devendra Fadnavis to form government in Maharashtra based on a letter showing the support of 170 MLAs, including all 54 of Ajit Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). On the other hand, the rival group of Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress submitted documents claiming the support of 154 MLAs and called for an "immediate" test of strength in the Maharashtra assembly.
Here are the top 10 updates on the Maharashtra case in Supreme Court:
1. The Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP have challenged the manner in which Mr Fadnavis was sworn in along with NCP's Ajit Pawar as his deputy at 7.50 am on Saturday after President's Rule was revoked at 5.47 am; Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly used a special rule that allows such decisions without a cabinet meet. The rapid developments took place hours after the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress announced an alliance with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as Chief Minister.
2. "We have 170 MLAs. The Governor saw the support of 170 MLAs. It is not a forged letter. The (BJP) was called and it took oath," said former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing Mr Fadnavis and the BJP. The BJP, which has 105 MLAs in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, needs 40 more to reach the majority-mark of 145.
3. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Governor's office, said Ajit Pawar had submitted signatures of all 54 NCP MLAs on Friday, and it was after this letter that Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had invited Devendra Fadnavis to form government. The governor, he said, couldn't go for any roving inquiry and he had no reason to doubt the letter.
4. Appearing for BJP MLAs and two Independents, Mukul Rohatgi claimed that the Governor's decision cannot be subject to a judicial review. "My pre-poll partner (Sena) is not willing to join me. NCP through Ajit Pawar, the NCP legislature party leader, supports me. One Pawar is here.What's in the family, we are not concerned," Mr Rohatgi said.
5. Kapil Sibal, representing the rival alliance, called the BJP government formation "fraud of democracy" and called for an immediate floor test. "What's the national emergency to revoke President rule? Why did these things happen between 7 PM and 5.47 am? Can't Governor wait for 24 hours," he questioned. He remarked, on Ajit Pawar, that "the jockey has run away but the horse are here together".
6. Mukul Rohatgi argued that the government must be given time to take a floor test and a speaker has to be elected after an interim speaker administers oath to the new MLAs. But the NCP's lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued against it, saying Ajit Pawar would try to issue a whip for the election of a Speaker and that would be illegal since he is no longer the chief of the legislature party.
7. The Supreme Court held a special Sunday hearing on the petition and asked the centre to produce the letter from Devendra Fadnavis claiming majority and that of the Governor inviting him to form government.
8. Ajit Pawar's party chief and uncle Sharad Pawar insists he went rogue and submitted a letter with signatures collected from MLAs for the Sena-led alliance, with a cover letter that claimed support to the BJP.
9. In their petition, the three parties have claimed that the Governor was "duty bound" to study the claim of Mr Fadnavis before inviting him to form government. This was especially the case when the Sena, NCP and the Congress expressed their intention to stake claim to form the government, they said.
10. In 2018, after the Supreme Court ordered a trust vote, the BJP's BS Yediyurappa, who had taken oath as the Chief Minister, stepped down saying he didn't have the numbers.
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Union Minister Ramdas Athawale suggested BJP and Shiv Sena to end the political uncertainty in Maharashtra
Union Minister Ramdas Athawale on Monday suggested a power-sharing deal between the BJP and Shiv Sena to end the political uncertainty in Maharashtra. Both parties will get a chance to occupy the chief minister's post under the proposed agreement that has already been discussed with Sena leader Sanjay Raut, he said.
"I talked to Sanjay Rautji about a compromise. I suggested a formula of three years' chief ministership for the BJP and two years for the Shiv Sena, to which he said that the Shiv Sena could think about it if the BJP agrees. I will discuss this with the BJP now," news agency ANI quoted the Union Minister -- who also heads the Republican Party of India -- as saying.
The proposal came hours after Mr Athawale expressed confidence that the BJP and the Shiv Sena would bridge their differences to form the government in Maharashtra again. "I told Amit bhai (BJP chief Amit Shah) that if he mediates, we will find a way out of this problem. To this, he replied: 'Don't worry, everything will be fine. The BJP and the Shiv Sena will come together to form the government'," he said.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena, who have been allies for 35 years now, unofficially parted ways after tussling over government formation in Maharashtra for weeks. While the Shiv Sena claims that its estranged ally had promised it a 50:50 deal with half the cabinet positions and a turn at the Chief Minister's post, Amit Shah has denied giving any such assurance.
Breaking his silence on the matter last week, Amit Shah accused the Shiv Sena of making unacceptable post-poll demands. "Before the elections, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I had said many times in public that Devendra Fadnavis will be the Chief Minister if the alliance wins. Nobody objected back then. Now they have come up with new demands that are not acceptable to us," he said in an interview with ANI last week.
The Shiv Sena is currently in talks with the Congress and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party to cobble up an alliance that would give them a shot at forming the government in Maharashtra. Mr Pawar had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss the likely coalition this evening amid efforts to put together a common minimum programme. "There are some more issues to be sorted out," he said after the meeting.
Maharashtra is currently under President's Rule.
Do you think BJP and Shiv Sena will come together to form the government?
Delhi Police register FIR against JNU students protesting against fee hike
The Delhi Police lodged an FIR on Tuesday in connection with the protest by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students over a hostel fee hike, a senior police official said.
He said the FIR was registered under the relevant provisions of law at the Kishangarh police station, but did not divulge the details. There was no immediate reaction from the JNU Students' Union (JNUSU).
Hundreds of JNU students rocked the national capital on Monday, bringing several parts of the city to a halt. The students took out a protest march opposing the recent fee hike against which an agitation has been going on for over three weeks. During their clash with the police, the students alleged that they were baton-charged by the men in uniform. However, top police officials denied using force against the students.
According to the police, nearly 30 police personnel and 15 students were injured during the eight-hour protest, in which thousands of students from different universities across the national capital took part. There was a heavy deployment of police and paramilitary personnel outside the main gate of the JNU campus, even before the march commenced. Water cannons and PCR vans were also stationed outside.
Before the protest began, the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry set up a three-member committee to recommend ways to restore the normal functioning of the university and initiate a dialogue with the students and the administration.
The protesters took out the march around noon, broke the first set of barricades at the main gate of the campus and proceeded towards Baba Gangnath Marg, where another set of barricades awaited them.
The police detained about 100 protestors, including JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, secretary Satish Chandra Yadav and former JNUSU president N Sai Balaji. The students were ultimately stopped outside the Safdarjung Tomb, where, they alleged, the police baton-charged them, an allegation denied by the men in uniform.
On Saturday, an FIR was registered against unidentified persons over an incident of "defacement" of the JNU's administration block.
Is the JNU students protest over the fee hike justified?
PM Modi's Shout-Out To Sharad Pawar's NCP Amid Maharashtra Turmoil
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's shout-out for Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in parliament, at a time the party is engrossed in all-out efforts to form a non-BJP coalition to take power in Maharashtra, drew much comment on Monday. PM Modi was speaking at a special discussion to mark the 250th session of the Rajya Sabha or upper house of parliament.
"Today, I want to appreciate two parties, NCP and BJD (Biju Janata Dal of Naveen Patnaik)," said the Prime Minister, opening the discussion.
"These parties have wonderfully adhered to parliamentary norms. They have never gone into the well of the house (to protest). Yet, they have made their points very effectively. Every political party, including my party, should learn from them," PM Modi said.
The Prime Minister was speaking on the practice of members rushing to the centre of the house and shouting slogans while raising protests in the house.
The praise for NCP stands out at a time Sharad Pawar is a key player in trying to stitch the unlikeliest of all alliances in Maharashtra, between the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress. And especially when the Shiv Sena, the BJP's oldest ally, today officially sat in the opposition benches after their falling out over power sharing in Maharashtra.
PM Modi's BJP opted out of the race to form a government, after long-term partner Shiv Sena refused to continue the alliance without a guarantee of equal partnership, including rotational chief ministership.
The Shiv Sena, which won 56 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, immediately pulled out its only minister from PM Modi's government and began talks with the NCP and Congress. The three together have 154 seats, nine more than the majority mark.
The Sena almost staked claim to power last Monday when it was forced to instead request the governor for more time, after the NCP held back its letter of support. The Congress said it needed more discussions.
Many in the NCP believe Sharad Pawar is under pressure from the centre to stall the alliance. Top NCP leaders like Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel have been booked in Enforcement Directorate cases.
Is Sharad Pawar's NCP compatible with the BJP?
Sena-NCP-Congress Will Form Government in Maharashtra
The Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress will form a government in Maharashtra, which will complete a full term, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Friday, ruling out mid-term elections in the state that is under President's Rule after no party won a majority in polls last month. The three parties have agreed on a minimum agenda for getting together in a coalition government in Maharashtra, another senior leader said as the parties announced that they would meet with the Governor tomorrow in their first-ever joint outing.
"This government will be formed and it will complete five years. We all will ensure this government runs for five years," said Sharad Pawar, 79, a day after the three parties met to thrash out their basic differences and draft a common minimum programme.
The Congress, which took time to come around to supporting an ideologically contrasting party like the Shiv Sena, had insisted on a common agenda.
Deriding Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP for predicting that a Sena-NCP-Congress government would not last more than six months, Mr Pawar said: "I know Devendra ji for some years. But I did not know he is a student of astrology too."
The veteran also joked about another statement by Mr Fadnavis, who quit as chief minister last week: "I will come again."
Asked about the Shiv Sena's reported insistence on having the chief minister's post for the entire term, Mr Pawar said: "If anybody demands the chief minister's post we will think about it."
Sharad Pawar, a former Maharashra chief minister, is believed to have called for rotational chief ministership as a condition for partnering with the Shiv Sena.
Another NCP leader, Nawab Mallik, indicated that the Sena may get its wish. "On this issue the Sena separated from the BJP. Taking care of their prestige is our job. Chief Minister will be theirs," said the NCP leader.
"The draft common minimum programme has been sent to the leadership of each party for approval. Our focus will be on farmers' issues and unemployment... We are trying to make a government as soon as possible," he added.
Mr Malik refused to confirm reports that the Shiv Sena would have chief ministership for the entire five years and the NCP and Congress would share deputy chief ministership.
"Talks are still on," he said, adding, "There are no controversial issues in the draft."
The three parties will meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at 3 pm tomorrow on what they call "governance failure" in issues related to farmers and job losses. They have had discussions over the past three days - since President's Rule was imposed in Maharashtra on Tuesday -- on power sharing after the Sena ended its alliance with the BJP over its demand for rotational chief ministership.