Governor scouts for legal keys to untangle Maha knot

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari (right) meets ministers Chandrakant Patil (left) and Sudhir Mungantiwar at the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai on Thursday. PTI

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari commenced legal consultations on Thursday as the fortnight-long political crisis in the state showed no signs of easing, with the BJP and Shiv Sena remaining locked in stalemate over the chief minister’s post. 

State Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni briefed the Governor on the options available to him. Going by precedents and conventions, the Governor may call the single-largest party — BJP, in this case — to explore the possibilities of forming the government. There are no claimants so far, though.

Meanwhile, the standoff between the two ruling MahaYuti partners continued. While the BJP maintained that Devendra Fadnavis will remain the CM, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was adamant on the 50-50 power ratio and the sharing of CM’s chair for two-and-a-half years each. Both sides maintained they do not want to break the alliance.

The saffron allies seem to have reached a point of no return, pushing the state towards a brief spell of President’s rule.

Maharashtra poll results were announced on August 24. The tenure of the Assembly ends on November 9. The Governor will have to take a call in the next couple of days.

In the last 15 days, all political parties have met the Governor and apprised him of the political situation but none staked claim to form the government.

The NCP-Congress MahaAghadi (opposition coalition) remained firm on its stand to sit in the Opposition and not support Sena.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni reached the Raj Bhavan minutes after a BJP delegation comprising state president and Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan and Education Minister Ashish Shelar called on Koshyari.

Patil said they told the Governor that the mandate is for MahaYuti — comprising BJP, Shiv Sena, Republican Party of India (Athawale), Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, Shiv Sangram and RayatKranti Sangathana — to form the government, but it was taking time. “We discussed the current situation, we discussed the legal aspects,” he said.

Before meeting the Governor, minister Mungantiwar said the BJP was against forming a “minority government” and wanted to take Sena along.

Earlier in the day, Thackeray chaired a meeting of Sena legislators and leaders to decide the future course of action. He reportedly told the MLAs he has no intention to break the MahaYuti and was open to discussions based on the formula.

“The BJP should keep its word. Everything was decided at the meeting with (BJP president) Amit Shah,” he said.

Later, Thackeray confidante and spokesperson Sanjay Raut accused the BJP of creating a situation of President’s rule in the state and questioned why it did not stake claim to form the government.

He reiterated that the chief minister would be from Shiv Sena. Asked about numbers, he said, “Let’s not discuss it here, you will come to know on the floor of the House.”

Raut said all MLAs supported the stand taken by Thackeray. “We want our CM. The Constitution is for the people of the country, it is not anyone’s private property. Constitutionally, a Shiv Sena CM should be in place,” he said.

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