Score at 162, alliance throws down the gauntlet to BJP

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge (second from right), NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray at the show of strength in Mumbai on Monday. PTI

The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine staged a show of strength on Monday evening at a 5-star hotel in Mumbai, hours after they staked claim to form the government, and a day before the keenly awaited ruling of the Supreme Court on the political crisis.

The event, a first in the state, was organised as an open challenge to Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, who too claimed to have the numbers.

Titled “Amhi 162” (We Are 162), it was witnessed by NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge and also included a pledge.

“There would not be any problem in proving majority,” Pawar said.

“A government was formed in Maharashtra without a majority. The BJP didn’t have a majority anywhere but formed governments in Karnataka, Goa and Manipur. But this is Maharashtra.”

Uddhav, who is likely to be the CM if Fadnavis falls, said that the alliance is not hungry for power.

“We will stick to ‘Satyamev Jayate’. We are followers of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,” he said.

Taking a dig at Fadnavis, he said: “I will not say ‘I will come again’. ‘We have already come’,” the Sena president said.

Senior Congressman Ashok Chavan thanked party president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi for allowing the Maharashtra unit to enter this alliance. “We are more than 162, not just 162,” he said.

The BJP termed the event a “cruel joke”. 

“How can you have an identification parade of lawmakers like criminals,” asked BJP spokesperson Ashish Shelar. “The three parties ‘paraded’ 162 MLAs, but do they really have the support of 145 legislators,” Shelar sought to know.

Visit to Raj Bhavan

Earlier in the day, top leaders of three parties visited Raj Bhavan and submitted a letter along with a list of 162 MLAs. 

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, was, however, not in Mumbai, and the letter was handed over to his secretary. 

“Once Fadnavis fails to prove his majority during the floor test, the Shiv Sena’s claim for government formation should be considered,” the parties said in the letter. “We have submitted a list of 162 members,” NCP legislature party leader Jayant Patil said. He also said the common minimum programme of the three parties is also ready. 

On Sunday evening, the BJP tasked four veterans - Narayan Rane, Ganesh Naik, Babanrao Pachpute and Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil - to garner the support of rival group MLAs. 

Pawar, who was in Karad in the morning, said joining hands with the BJP was Ajit’s personal decision. “We have the numbers,” he said.

 

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