NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and Congress leader Ahmad Patel
NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and Congress leader Ahmad Patel hold a joint press conference after meeting, in Mumbai on Tuesday. Image Credit: ANI

New Delhi: As deliberations among political parties for the government formation in Maharashtra failed after reaching a fever pitch, the state was placed under President’s Rule on Tuesday on the recommendation of Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

Even 20 days after the results of the state legislative assembly election, none of the three parties — Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — could produce enough numbers to stake a claim to power.

In a statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said President’s Rule was imposed for six months but it could be withdrawn earlier if any party proved the numbers to form the government.

“The Governor has given his recommendation to the centre, saying that there is no party which seems to be in a position to form the government. Hence, he recommended the President’s Rule,” the MHA said.

The Ministry stated that the Governor made all attempts to see a formation of the government in Maharashtra but could not succeed.

“The Governor is satisfied that a situation has arisen that no stable government can be formed in the state,” the MHA statement read.

After Sena failed to get letters of support from possible allies — Congress and NCP — before the deadline came to an end on Monday, Governor Koshyari gave NCP time till 8.30pm on Tuesday to prove it has the numbers.

However, President’s Rule was imposed on Tuesday noon itself.

Shiv Sena termed the Governor’s decision to recommend President’s Rule as “unconstitutional, unreasonable and mala fide.”

The hardline Hindu party approached the apex Supreme Court against Maharashtra Governor’s refusal on Monday to grant it extra time to stake claim to power.

“Shiv Sena has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against Maharashtra governor’s refusal to extend time. We had asked the Governor to give us three days to submit the requisite letters of support. We could have proved our numbers in a floor test later,” Sena leader Anil Parab said.

In its petition, Sena said while the Governor gave 48 hours to BJP to show whether it can form the next government, he only gave 24 hours to them to get support letters from Congress and NCP.

“The Governor has acted in haste at the behest of BJP to deny us the opportunity to form government,” Sena said in its petition.

Sena also said that the party has got the support of eight independent MLAs — Narendra Bondekar, Manjula Gavith, Shankar Rao Gadak, Chandrakanth Patil, Ashish Jaiswal, Bachhukadu, Rajkumar Patel and Rajendra Patel Vadraokar.

It pleaded with the court to intervene and direct the Governor to grant reasonable time to the party to prima facie demonstrate the requisite support to form the Government.

The Sena said that the Governor, as per the law, ought to have invited the party to form Government and directed it to prove its majority on the floor of the house.

“The factum of the majority cannot be decided by the Hon’ble Governor in his own ipsi dixit [an unsupported statement that rests solely on the authority of the individual who makes it] and the floor of the House is the only ‘constitutionally ordained forum’ to the test majority,” the plea said.

Asserting that the government formation is a sacrosanct political process in a democracy and Governor cannot act as a stumbling block for thwarting a political party from forming the government, the party said: “As per the constitutional conventions and practices, the Governor is duty-bound to allow reasonable time for political parties to conclude their negotiation on government formation and not act as an agent/mouthpiece of the Central Government and/or the Ruling party at the Centre.”

On Monday, the lone Shiv Sena member in union cabinet Arvind Sawant resigned as Heavy Industries Minister indicating Sena’s exit from National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi.

What lies ahead?

Maharashtra has a total of 288 legislative assembly seats. With 105 seats under its belt, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has the highest number but it is not near the halfway mark of 144.

While Shiv Sena has 56 seats, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress have 54 and 44 seats respectively.

Article 356 of the Constitution provides for the imposition of President’s Rule in “case of failure of the constitutional machinery in the state”.

It can be imposed in cases where the President, on receipt of report from the Governor of the state or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

President’s Rule can be imposed for six months. After that the Election Commission is required to announce fresh election.

However, President’s Rule can be withdrawn, if, in the meantime, any political party comes up with a formulation that can prove its majority on the floor of the House.

If approved by both Lower and Upper Houses, President’s Rule can be extended for a maximum period of three years. The approval of the Parliament must be secured every six months.