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President's Rule In Maharashtra Recommended By Union Cabinet

Maharashtra is set for President's Rule after a report from Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to the centre that none of the three parties he had invited since Saturday - BJP, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) - could produce enough numbers to stake claim to power even 20 days after the October 24 state election results. The Governor sent the report after the NCP spoke to him at 11 am, hours before its 8.30 pm deadline, and asked for more time. President's Rule was recommended in the middle of meetings between allies Congress and NCP to discuss support to the Shiv Sena. The NCP of Sharad Pawar received an invite last evening after the Shiv Sena failed to get a three-day extension to stake claim. The Sena has gone to the Supreme Court against the Governor's refusal to give it more time.

Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

1. The Shiv Sena's attempts to form a government with its sworn rivals NCP and Congress reached a dead-end yesterday after a call from Congress president Sonia Gandhi gave a glimmer of hope to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

2. At the last minute, when the Shiv Sena was to meet the Governor with letters of support, the Congress said it had taken no decision and would have discussions with NCP chief Sharad Pawar. "From 10 am to 7:30 pm on Monday, our leaders including Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel were waiting for (Congress's) letter," said NCP's Ajit Pawar, Sharad Pawar's nephew.

3. The Shiv Sena went to the Supreme Court complaining that the Governor had refused to grant it even an extra day even though the BJP was given two days to prove its numbers. Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, a Congress leader, is representing the Sena.

4. Sonia Gandhi sent her top party leaders to Mumbai for discussions on government formation after speaking to Sharad Pawar on the phone this morning. The Congress leaders had earlier put off their visit. Ajit Pawar had told NDTV that his uncle Sharad Pawar had been asked to meet Sonia Gandhi in Delhi instead. Mr Pawar had declined, citing a meeting of NCP MLAs in Mumbai.

5. Though Congress MLAs in Maharashtra favour forming a government with the Sena, the party leadership, especially Sonia Gandhi, is extremely wary of a tie-up with an ideologically different party, a traditional enemy and one with which it was in direct contest in Mumbai and many regions in Maharashtra in the polls. The Congress is also concerned that the Sena's divorce with the BJP, its partner of nearly 30 years, may not be permanent.

6. The Shiv Sena yesterday pulled out its only minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government at the centre to signal its exit from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The Sena's separation from the BJP was the NCP's prerequisite for talks between the Maharashtra rivals for a non-BJP alliance.

7. The NCP says it will not take any step without its ally Congress. "Whatever decision will be taken will be taken collectively, so we were waiting for Congress response yesterday but it didn't come, we can't decide on it alone. There is no misunderstanding, we are together. The Congress is taking time because we didn't contest with the Shiv Sena," said Ajit Pawar.

8. The Congress says it was Sharad Pawar who wanted more time. Sources say Mr Pawar told Sonia Gandhi yesterday that there was a need to discuss the contours of support to the Sena. "NCP is just two seats short of Sena," Mr Pawar reportedly pointed out, indicating a rethink on whether the Sena should have a full term for its chief minister.

9. On Saturday, as the term of the Maharashtra legislative assembly ended without any resolution, Governor Koshyari invited the BJP to form government. But the BJP opted out of the race accusing the Sena of "betraying the people's mandate".

10. The BJP won 105 seats in the Maharashtra polls and the Sena 56, which placed them comfortably ahead of the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member assembly. But the allies fell out over the Sena's demand for rotational chief ministership, in a "50:50" deal it said was discussed with BJP chief Amit Shah. With the NCP's 54 seats and the Congress's 44, the Sena will have 154 MLAs on its side. Congress MLAs remain at a resort in Rajasthan's Jaipur as the leadership wants to avoid a repeat of Goa, where its members crossed over to the BJP.

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