Maharashtra BJP collapses


The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra collapsed on Tuesday three days after being installed with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis resigning even before facing a trial of strength ordered by the Supreme Court. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar also resigned.

In dramatic turn of events, Fadnavis was sworn in by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari early Saturday as next Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy. Koshyari administered the oath of office to the two leaders in a hush-hush ceremony at the Raj Bhavan, setting off a political storm across parties in the state.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court directed that Fadnavis face a floor to prove his majority in the state legislative Assembly on Wednesday. "In the present case, oath has not been administered to the newly-elected MLAs (legislators)...In the present scenario to avoid horse trading it is necessary to have a floor test to determine the majority in the house," a three-member apex court bench said.

The BJP and the Shiv Sena, which fought the last month's Assembly polls in an alliance, secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively. However, the Sena broke its three-decdae-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister's post.

The NCP and the Congress won 54 and 44 seats respectively. The BJP and the Sena had ruled Maharashtra for the last decade before the latest round of elections to the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly were held on October 21 this year. The poll produced a hung House with the BJP emerging as the single-largest party but failing to get majority on its own. It was followed by the Shiv Sena (56 MLAs), the Nationalist Congress Party (54 MLAs) and the Congress (44 MLAs).

The Shiv Sena then held several rounds of talks with the NCP and the Congress for government-formation but their efforts were upstaged by the surprise swearing in of Fadnavis on the morning of November 23. The Sena, Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had moved the Supreme Court with a petition against the manner in which Fadnavis was sworn in an early morning ceremony in Mumbai last Saturday, along with Ajit Pawar of the NCP as deputy Chief Minister.

Opposing the petition, the federal Indian government had argued in the top court that Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited Fadnavis to form government based on a letter showing the support of 170 legislators, including all 54 of the NCP, in the 288-member assembly where the majority mark is 145. The rival group of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress has submitted court documents claiming the support of 154 lawmakers and had called for an "immediate" test of strength in the Maharashtra assembly.