Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Monday invited the Nationalist Congress Party, the third largest party in the state, to stake claim to form government after he rejected the Shiv Sena’s request for extra time to get letters of support. The state governor had on Sunday invited the Shiv Sena to stake claim after the Bharatiya Janata Party said it lacked numbers despite winning the most seats in last month’s elections.
Some reports said the Congress has decided to offer outside support to the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party to form the government but there was no official confirmation. Instead, the Congress released a statement that it wants to hold further discussions with the NCP.
Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena’s lone Union minister Arvind Sawant resigned from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet. On Sunday, the NCP had said it would support the Shiv Sena only if it breaks ties with the BJP.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena, being alliance partners, could have easily formed a government together but failed to do so for two weeks as they could not agree on how to share power. The BJP had won 105 seats in the 288-seat legislature, the Shiv Sena 56 seats, the NCP 54 seats and the Congress 44 seats.
Here are the day’s updates:
9.40 pm: The BJP will “wait and watch” the situation, says senior leader Sudhir Mungantiwar.
9.37 pm: The NCP has been given time till 8.30 pm on Tuesday to stake claim to form government. NCP leader Jayant Patil said they will speak to their allies and then respond.
9.12 pm: NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Dhananjay Munde reach Raj Bhavan to meet the governor.
9.10 pm: NCP leader Nawab Malik says the party will discuss with its ally Congress and come to a final discussion on Tuesday.
8.45 pm: The governor then invited Nationalist Congress Party, according to reports. “At 8.30 pm, the governor called us and asked me to come to meet him,” NCP leader Ajit Pawar says. “Along with Chhagan Bhujbal, Jayant Patil and others, I am going to meet him. We have no idea as to why did he call us. Governor is an important person so we are going to meet him.”
8.30 pm: The Shiv Sena delegation that met Governor BS Koshyari on Monday was willing to form government but could not submit the “requisite letter of support”, the Raj Bhavan said on Monday. The Sena had sought an extension of three days to submit the letter but the governor rejected it.
8.15 pm: Congress leader Manikrao Thackeray says neither his party nor the NCP has sent any letter supporting the Shiv Sena to the governor yet. “It has been decided that two leaders will be sent for discussions with Pawar, state leaders will also be there. The next step will be taken after the discussion,” he says, according to ANI.
7.47 pm: Both the Congress and the NCP have been speaking to the Shiv Sena, says Thackeray. “As talks are on, as second largest party, it was our right to come here,” he adds, according to ANI.
7.45 pm: Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray says the governor denied them two days’ time to form the government, ANI reports. “We asked him for at least two days time but we weren’t given time,” he says. “The claim [to form government] wasn’t denied but the time was. We’ll continue to put in efforts to form government in the state.”
7.32 pm: The Congress continues to keep the Shiv Sena waiting. “The Congress Working Committee met this morning and had a detailed discussion on the situation in Maharashtra, after which a consultation was held with Maharashtra Congress leaders,” the Congress says in a statement. “The Congress president has spoken to Sharad Pawar. The party will have further discussions with NCP.”
7.07 pm: Shiv Sena leaders meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at the Raj Bhavan.
7.06 pm: Congress to offer outside support to Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party, reports News18. Aaditya Thackeray reportedly has a letter of support from the NCP and Congress. The Congress is not expected to be a part of the state Cabinet as it will only extend outside support to the government.
7.03 pm: Congress leaders leave after a meeting with the party’s interim chief, Sonia Gandhi, at her residence.
7.01 pm: Sonia Gandhi and Uddhav Thackeray are having a second telephonic conversation now, News18 reports.
6.55 pm: Some Independent MLAs are also at the Raj Bhavan to support the Shiv Sena, reports ANI.
6.35 pm: Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray and other party leaders reach the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai. The Shiv Sena has until 7.30 pm to stake claim. The state risks slipping into President’s Rule if no alliance can form a government.
6.02 pm: A delegation of leaders from the Shiv Sena will meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at 7.15 pm, News18 reports. Aaditya Thackeray is expected to be a part of the team.
5.31 pm: Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi speaks to party leaders in Jaipur via video-conferencing, News18 reports. The party had kept its newly-elected MLAs at a resort in Jaipur to avoid them being poached.
5.04 pm: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s brother Sunil Raut says his brother has had chest pains for the past 15 days, according to ANI. “But it’s not serious,” he adds. “He has been admitted for routine check up. I think today evening his angiography will be performed and he’ll be released in a day or two.”
5.02 pm: Meanwhile, senior BJP leaders such as Chandrakant Patil, Sudhir Mungantiwar and Ashish Shelar are meeting at Devendra Fadnavis’ house, The Indian Express reports. The BJP Core Committee is expected to meet soon.
4.57 pm: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray speaks with his Congress counterpart Sonia Gandhi on the phone, reports The Indian Express.
4.55 pm: “It is important for the people of Maharashtra to have a government so as to carry out public works,” Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia tells PTI. He adds that he does not want to comment on the Congress’ role in this as talks are currently underway.
“The mandate was for the BJP-Shiv Sena but at the moment there is a strange situation,” he adds.
4.25 pm: Congress leaders AK Antony and Ahmed Patel reach party’s interim chief Sonia Gandhi’s residence, ANI reports.
3.47 pm: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut has been admitted to Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai after he complained of chest pain, News18 reports. More details are awaited.
3.24 pm: “If Congress gives support to Shiv Sena, they should not disturb it for next five years,” Janata Dal (Secular) chief HD Deve Gowda tells ANI. “Then only people will trust Congress.”
3.06 pm: The Shiv Sena will meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at 5 pm, reports News18.
2.24 pm: A group of senior Maharashtra Congress leaders leave the resort in Jaipur where the party is keeping its newly elected MLAs to avoid them being poached, PTI reports. They will now leave for Delhi for a meeting with the central leadership to decide whether to support the Shiv Sena.
The group comprises former Union minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and former Chief Ministers Prithviraj Chavan and Ashok Chavan among others.
2.23 pm: NCP chief Sharad Pawar leaves after meeting Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, ANI reports.
2.21 pm: Congress leader MM Pallam Raju says there is no question of compromising with the party’s principles. “There is no question of a compromise, we act in a very very responsible manner and we do look to Sharad Pawar, who is a senior leader in Maharashtra, to also decide what should be the outcome,” Raju says.
1.54 pm: When asked if the Shiv Sena has quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, Sawant says, “When I have resigned, you can understand what it means.”
1.42 pm: Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, who resigned from the Union Cabinet earlier in the day, accuses the BJP of going back from its pre-election promises to his party. “It would not have been morally right for me to continue in the Centre, so I have resigned as Union minister,” he says, according to ANI.
1.27 pm: A meeting is under way between Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar in Mumbai, ANI reports.
1.15 pm: Three former Maharashtra chief ministers, Ashok Chavan, Prithivraj Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde, will meet the senior leadership of the Congress in Delhi, PTI reports. Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat and Congress Legislature Party leader KC Padavi will also be present.
1.07 pm: “It is the responsibility of us all to give an alternative given the plight of the people and farmers,” Nawab Malik says according to PTI. “We are expecting a decision from the Congress. If there is a consensus, we will proceed towards government formation.”
12.34 pm: Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik tells the media following the party’s meeting that it is waiting for the Congress to take a decision on supporting the Shiv Sena, ANI reports. “Congress MLAs are in favour of supporting Shiv Sena-led government, but Congress Working Committee is the supreme body to decide on their party line,” he adds.
12.26 pm: Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge says the party has called its Maharashtra leaders to Delhi for further discussions, ANI reports. The meeting will be held at 4 pm.
11.47 am: Asked about the Shiv Sena’s statement that there was no point in continuing the alliance with the BJP, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar says he has nothing to do with the matter, ANI reports.
11.30 am: Senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar says the party was keen to form an alliance government with the Shiv Sena, The Indian Express reports. “Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took the initiative to form the government by making calls to Sena president Uddhav Thackeray,” he says. “But it is evident that Sena had different plans in mind.”
11.22 am: “The BJP will be more than pleased to see the Sena forming the government with Congress and NCP,” an unidentified BJP leader tells The Indian Express. “This would put it in an awkward position every time an issue of Hindutva comes up. Moreover, the BJP will emerge as the sole party with a Hindutva agenda.”
11.04 pm: Sanjay Raut has arrived at Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s residence in Mumbai to hold discussions, ANI reports.
10.54 am: “No matter who forms govt and how, but the political instability in Maharashtra can not be ruled out now,” says Mumbai Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam, who is at loggerheads with another leader, Milind Deora. “Get ready for early elections. It may take place in 2020. Can we go to the elections with Shiv Sena as partner?” On Sunday, Nirupam had opined that taking the Shiv Sena along as a partner will be disastrous for the Congress.
10.41 am: Raut asks that if the BJP can join hands with the Peoples Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir, why can the Shiv Sena not go with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, PTI reports. He adds that the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party should come up with a common minimum programme in the interest of the people of Maharashtra.
10.37 am: If BJP is unwilling to fulfill its promise, there is no point of staying with the alliance, says Sanjay Raut, PTI reports. He adds that while the governor gave the BJP 72 hours to stake claim to form a government, the Shiv Sena has been given just 24 hours. The Shiv Sena has to prove its majority by 7.30 pm on Monday.
The Nationalist Congress Party had on Sunday demanded that the Shiv Sena sever ties with the BJP and pull out of the National Democratic Alliance.
10.33 am: BJP’s arrogance not to share the chief minister’s post has led to this situation, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut says. He adds that the BJP has insulted the mandate of the people by not agreeing to the 50:50 formula.
10.22 am: Senior Congress leaders have arrived at party’s interim president Sonia Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi, ANI reports. There will be a Congress Working Committee meeting over the political situation in Maharashtra. Pawar is likely to meet Sonia Gandhi today.
10.08 am: “I haven’t had a word with anyone regarding anyone’s resignation,” Sharad Pawar tells the media, according to ANI. “We’ll have a word with Congress today. Whatever decision is to be taken will be taken only after discussions with Congress.”
9.55 am: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar will chair the party’s core group meeting in Mumbai on Monday, ANI reports. Praful Patel, Supriya Sule, Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil and other party leaders will be present.
9.30 am: Shiv Sena MP and Union minister Arvind Sawant resigns from the Cabinet, citing the BJP’s refusal to adhere to the 50:50 power-sharing formula as agreed upon before the Lok Sabha elections.