The President’s Rule was imposed in Maharashtra in 2019 with the consent of NCP president Sharad Pawar, said Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday. The NCP chief rejected the claim, saying it was a call taken by the BJP government at the Centre.
Mr Fadnavis made the claim while responding to a question at the India Today Conclave in Mumbai about the timeline of his attempt to form a short-lived government with the NCP.
In one of the biggest political surprises in Maharashtra after the 2019 polls, the then Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari swore in Mr Fadnavis as the chief minister and Ajit Pawar as deputy Chief Minister on November 23, 2019. However, the government fell after about 72 hours.
“Post assembly elections in 2019, we were discussing government formation with Sharad Pawar. We had even finalised portfolio distribution and guardian ministers’ responsibilities. But Pawar made a U-turn and backed out,” said Mr Fadnavis on Wednesday, insisting that the decision to impose the President’s Rule in the state was taken with Mr Pawar’s consent. NCP had won 54 seats in the 2019 state polls.
In the last Maharashtra assembly elections, the results of which were announced on October 24, 2019, the BJP won 105 of the 288 seats in the state. The Shiv Sena, which was in an alliance with the BJP, won 56 seats. However, the allies parted ways after bickering over power-sharing, with the Chief Minister’s post being the bone of contention.
Following the deadlock, the President’s Rule was imposed in the state.
“The governor has to ask every political party whether it would like to stake claim to form the government. The NCP refused to do so and its letter (to this effect) was typed at my residence in Mumbai. Pawar suggested some corrections, which were made, and then it (letter) was submitted,” said Mr Fadnavis, claiming that Pawar’s consent had been taken before it was decided to go for the President’s Rule.
“Pawar told us that he could not take a decision to tie up with the BJP in a short period. Pawar said he would first tour the state and announce his decision to form a government with the BJP after convincing people. Pawar said he would need one month for it,” Mr Fadnavis said.
After Sharad Pawar made a U-turn about forming the government with the BJP, his nephew and NCP leader Ajit Pawar tried to form the government with the BJP, Mr Fadnavis added.
Later, Sharad Pawar announced that the then Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had been unanimously chosen to head an alliance of Sena, NCP and Congress – Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) – which formed the government.
The MVA government fell last year after Eknath Shinde, along with 39 Sena MLAs, joined hands with the BJP to become the chief minister with Fadnavis as his deputy, Ajit Pawar broke away from NCP in July this year to be a part of the ruling coalition.
Speaking at the same event later, Sharad Pawar rejected Mr Fadnavis’s claim about his “U-turn”.
The NCP president said the BJP is in the government at the Centre. “If they decide to impose the President’s Rule, why should we say no? They have the numbers, why would they listen to me,” he asked.
Terming Mr Fadnavis’s claims “baseless”, NCP’s chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said their party under Sharad Pawar has consistently upheld the principles of democracy and the will of the people.
“We would like to remind Mr Fadnavis that the decision to impose the President’s Rule in Maharashtra was taken by the Central government, and any insinuation that it was influenced by Pawar is false and misleading,” said the NCP leader.
Tapase said their party is committed to transparency and accountability in governance.
Such statements by BJP leaders are purposely made to confuse the electorate who stands with “Sharad Pawar saheb” in Maharashtra, he said.
Despite its “Operation Lotus”, the BJP has not been able to substantially damage the NCP’s “vote share” in Maharashtra and hence repeated attempts are being made by Fadnavis to “confuse the electorate”, Tapase said.
“I wonder why the BJP cannot get over its obsession with Sharad Pawar,” said the NCP leader, adding that the people of Maharashtra can never forget that the “incompetent” government of Fadnavis is responsible for the deaths of infants and others in Nanded and Aurangabad, now renamed Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar.
The opposition has targeted the ruling dispensation in Maharashtra over recent deaths in state-run hospitals.
As many as 31 deaths were recorded at the Dr Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital in Nanded in 48 hours since September 30, while 18 patients died at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar within 24 hours ending at 8 am on Tuesday.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)