Maha misuse of all high offices

There is no explanation for the nocturnal operation, except that the newly formed Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress formation would stake claim to form the government on Sunday and the BJP wanted to prevent it.

While the legal issues involved in the midnight ‘coup’ to form a government in Maharashtra will be decided by the SC on Monday or later, the political and moral issues are very clear. It was an unwholesome and unprecedented attempt to grab power, and all norms of political conduct were thrown aside when Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the chief minister and Ajit Pawar as the deputy chief minister secretively in the early hours of Saturday.

There is no explanation for the nocturnal operation, except that the newly formed Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress formation would stake claim to form the government on Sunday and the BJP wanted to prevent it. The BJP had withdrawn from the government formation efforts after a failure to reach an agreement with the Shiv Sena on sharing power, but it decided to stage the coup, violating norms and bending rules and misusing the Governor’s office. 

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari acted as a hitman of the BJP by accepting the dubious letter of support of NCP MLAs, produced by Ajit Pawar, recommending the withdrawal of President’s rule and inviting Fadnavis to form the government. It is not even known whether there was such a letter. It is also not known whether any date was fixed by the Governor for Fadnavis to prove his majority in the assembly.

It was a non-transparent and conspiratorial action and the people of the state who voted in daylight were given an illegitimate and probably illegal government in the darkness of the night. Koshyari was part of the conspiracy at night to install a government which probably had no support, and which expected to secure a majority through defections. The central government invoked a rule which is to be used by the Prime Minister only in emergency situations to revoke President’s rule without a recommendation from the Union cabinet.

There are many disquieting questions raised by the series of events that happened on Saturday night, and the answers indict the President’s and the Governor’s offices, the Prime Minister and the BJP leadership. The Maharashtra operation was wrong and undemocratic, and the Prime Minister had no compunction in congratulating a government born in vice and stealth. 

The bluff has now been called with all the NCP MLAs, except two or three, declaring their support for the party’s decision to form a government with the Shiv Sena and the Congress. Anything can happen in the permissive politics of the times but, for the time being, a blatant and unscrupulous grab for power, which even overshadowed the impropriety of the Sena, the NCP and the Congress coming together to form a government, may have been aborted.  

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