Shiv Sena to contest Maharashtra President’s Rule in Supreme Court today

With the President’s Rule now imposed in Maharashtra, the political battle is set to move to the Supreme Court as the Shiv Sena is likely to challenge the imposition of President’s Rule.

The Maharashtra Governor has shut the doors of the state assembly — putting it in a state of suspended animation as the Shiv Sena and the NCP failed to utilise the 24-hour each window provided to each to submit a list of majority MLAs to form a government.

Events unfolded rapidly on Tuesday as Shiv Sena initially filed a plea before the top court challenging Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision to deny their demand for 72 hours to submit letters of support and form the government.

As no party submitted a conclusive letter of support, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari recommended President’s Rule — basing his decision on two failed attempts for government formation under the circumstances prevailing at the time when he sent a report to the centre in the afternoon.

The Centre moved swiftly.

PM Narendra Modi called an unscheduled Cabinet meeting and approved the Governor’s recommendation and by evening President Ram Nath Kovind, soon after returning from a trip to Punjab, put his stamp to put Maharashtra under President’s Rule.

Even as the news was breaking from Maharashtra that the Governor was taking legal opinion on recommending President’s Rule, the legal team for the Shiv Sena reached the Supreme Court seeking urgent hearing of their petition.

At 3 pm on Tuesday, the lawyers for the Shiv Sena reached the SC, with a plea to quash the decision of the Governor, by which he had denied the request of Shiv Sena to grant three days time to get the letters of support.

Claiming that the Shiv Sena had “in-principle support” from the NCP and the Congress, the plea alleged that the Governor was acting “at the behest of the Centre” in an “arbitrary and malafide manner”.

“The Governor cannot act as a stumbling block for thwarting/stalling a political party from forming the government…,” said the plea, which argued that “reasonable time” was not granted to Sena, even though it had won the second-highest number of seats. The party also said they had informed the Governor that talks were on with the NCP and Congress.

Why Governor recommended President’s Rule

Top sources say that the Governor had a limited number of options before him. For the record, the Governor ticked all the right boxes. He allowed time to political parties to come up with claims to form a government. He gave the BJP 48 hours. One day later, the single-largest party officially submitted that it can’t form a government in Maharashtra.

Since the Governor is mandated to explore all possible options for forming a stable government, Koshyari invited the Shiv Sena and gave it 24 hours. And then the third to get his call was the NCP, also with a 24-hour deadline.

Sources say the parties failed to come up with a concrete proposal for government formation. Plus the term of the state assembly expired on November 9 and the caretaker CM Devendra Fadnavis had already resigned. With no new government in place, the Governor had a constitutional crisis on his hands as the state was without any “government” for almost 48 hours.

With the President’s Rule in place, the Governor heads the state as the President’s representative.