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What Next in Maharashtra if BJP, Shiv Sena Fail to End Logjam Before Midnight Deadline

The tenure of the Maharashtra Assembly ends on November 9. If a government is not sworn in by then, Devendra Fadnavis will have to resign.


Updated:November 8, 2019, 2:28 PM IST
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What Next in Maharashtra if BJP, Shiv Sena Fail to End Logjam Before Midnight Deadline
Illustration by Mir Suhail

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra have just one more day to stake claim. And as numbers stand, no government can be formed in the state without two parties joining hands. However, at loggerheads over a pre-poll pact, both parties do not seem to reach a mutual conclusion over leadership.

Senior leaders of Maharashtra BJP on Thursday met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to discuss "legal aspects" of the delay in formation of the government in the state after the October 21 Assembly elections.

Those who met Koshyari included state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil and ministers Sudhir Mungantiwar and Girish Mahajan. "We discussed the legal aspects of the current situation with the governor. We will hold talks with our leaders and decide the next course of action," said Patil.

Earlier on Thursday, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said he does not intend to end the alliance but only wants implementation of what was agreed upon between the two parties. The Sena appeared firm on its demand that the chief minister's post should be shared by the two allies for two-and-a-half years each.

The BJP and the Shiv Sena contested the Maharashtra Assembly election as an alliance and were given a clear majority 161 seats in the 288-member house. The other alliance, of the NCP-Congress, got 98 seats.

The tenure of the Maharashtra Assembly ends on November 9. If a government is not sworn in by then, Devendra Fadnavis will have to resign. Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, a former chief minister himself in Uttarakhand, may ask Fadnavis to continue as caretaker chief minister but only for urgent administrative matters.

"The governor will have the option of delaying President's rule but till then no new oaths can be taken. Also, it does not mean that re-election will be held. There are a lot many steps that the governor can take," said Sanjay Kumar, a senior political analyst.

Until the new government is formed, the newly elected MLAs cannot be administered oath. The government, as per rules, advises the governor on the schedule for oath taking. The Vidhan Sabha Speaker cannot be elected either as the new Speaker would be from among the newly elected members.

The governor is expected to follow the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, which later got endorsement of the Supreme Court. Under this set of guidelines, Governor Koshiyari has the following options:

He may invite the single-largest party or coalition to form government. In this case, BJP is the single largest party and BJP-Shiv Sena are the largest coalition. Koshiyari may ask the party or coalition if it is confident of proving majority on the floor of the House.

If the single-largest party declines the offer, the next big party or coalition may be invited to form government.

The order of invitation can only be in this sequence: pre-poll alliance, single-largest party, post-poll alliance with all constituents giving in writing that they would join the government, and lastly, a post-poll alliance with constituents telling which of them are part of the government and which of them are extending outside support to it.

If no alliance or party expresses confidence of forming the government, the governor will have to send a report to the Centre recommending President’s Rule in Maharashtra.

Under Article 352 of the Constitution, President’s Rule can only be imposed in a state where constitutional machinery has failed. Non-formation of an elected government is interpreted as failure of constitutional machinery in a state.​

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