Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Sunday said he was still in the Nationalist Congress Party, and his uncle and party chief Sharad Pawar was still his leader. He claimed “all is well”, and said some patience was required as the political developments in the state unfold.
However, Sharad Pawar later accused his nephew of creating confusion, and said there was no question of allying with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Earlier on Sunday, the Supreme Court sought the letters of support on the basis of which Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited the BJP to form the government in alliance with Ajit Pawar’s faction of the NCP. The Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress had moved the court against the governor’s decision.
On Saturday, the NCP had sacked Ajit Pawar as the legislative party’s head after he sided with the BJP even when an alliance with the Shiv Sena and the Congress to form a government was nearly ready. BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis had taken oath as the chief minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy early on Saturday.
Here is how the day unfolded:
6.56 pm: Nationalist Congress Party will move its MLAs to Hotel Hyatt from Hotel Renaissance due to security reasons, ANI reports.
6.54 pm: NCP leader Nawab Malik claims 50 out of 54 MLAs are with the party, though not everyone is at the hotel, ANI reports. The other four are “kept somewhere by BJP”, but are “in constant touch with us and will definitely come back”, Malik tells reporters.
6.03 pm: NCP chief Sharad Pawar says there is no question of forming an alliance with the BJP as his party had unanimously decided to partner with the Shiv Sena and the Congress. “Shri Ajit Pawar’s statement is false and misleading in order to create confusion and false perception among the people,” he says.
5.38 pm: Congress leader Ashok Chavan says the BJP is trying to gain more time from the Supreme Court as it is trying to poach MLAs from other parties, ANI reports.
5.36 pm: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is at The Lalit hotel, where his party’s MLAs are staying, ANI reports.
5.30 pm: Ajit Pawar tweets, saying he is in the NCP and will always be in the NCP. He says Sharad Pawar is “our leader”. “Our BJP-NCP alliance shall provide a stable government in Maharashtra for the next five years which will work sincerely for the welfare of the State and its people,” he says. “There is absolutely no need to worry, all is well. However a little patience is required. Thank you very much for all your support.”
4.16 pm: Reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision, NCP leader Nawab Malik says, “The swearing-in took place on the basis of bogus documents. Devendra Fadnavis does not have the numbers. It is better if he quits on his own, else face defeat on the floor of the House during the trust vote.”
4.12 pm: Security has been tightened outside the three luxury hotels in Mumbai where the MLAs of NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena are staying, PTI reports. Congress MLAs are in JW Marriott hotel, the NCP MLAs are at Renaissance hotel, and Shiv Sena has moved its legislators to The Lalit hotel.
4.11 pm: Ajit Pawar responds to various congratulatory messages posted on Twitter since Saturday morning. “We will ensure a stable Government that will work hard for the welfare of the people of Maharashtra,” he replies to Narendra Modi.
4.08 pm: Shiv Sena leaders Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar will hold a closed-door meeting at the Renaissance Hotel in Mumbai, ANI reports. Thackeray and Sanjay Raut were present at a meeting of NCP MLAs chaired by Pawar at the hotel.
3 pm: BJP leaders arrive for a meeting of the party’s MLAs in Mumbai, ANI reports.
2.30 pm: NCP MLA Manikrao Kokate, who was missing since Saturday, has reached Renaissance Hotel, where other MLAs of his party are staying, reports ANI.
1.44 pm: The NCP claims it is now able to contact three of its five MLAs who were missing till now. They are with the party, PTI reports.
1.07 pm: A Shiv Sena supporter allegedly tried to commit suicide in Washim district, apparently after being upset about Uddhav Thackeray not becoming the chief minister, PTI reports, quoting police.
12.35 pm: Supreme Court issues notice to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, the Centre, and the State of Maharashtra, reports Bar and Bench.
12.31 pm: The Supreme Court rules that the Maharashtra governor’s decision to invite the BJP to form the government is unconstitutional. “For the adjudication of this issue, we request Tushar Mehta to produce the two letters by tomorrow [Monday] 10.30 am,” the court says.
12.26 pm: “The House respects the court, the court must respect the House,” says Rohatgi. “Tomorrow, can the legislature pass a legislation saying that the court must dispose of all cases in two years?” The lawyer argues that independence of the House should be respected and cannot be breached, reports Bar and Bench.
12.22 pm: Rohatgi asks for three days’ time to all parties to file a response. “They should have done their homework before disturbing the court on late night and disturbing us on Sunday,” he says, according to Bar and Bench.
12.18 pm: Rohatgi says governor’s decision cannot be a subject of judicial review, reports Live Law. The lawyer cites Article 361 of the Constitution that exempts the president or a governor from being answerable to any court.
12.13 pm: Advocate Mukul Rohatgi begins arguments.
12.12 pm: “If floor test is ordered for tomorrow [Monday], larger issues may come back to the Supreme Court later,” says Singhvi. “How is it possible for someone claiming majority yesterday to shy away from a floor test today.” The lawyer says if a floor test is ordered, it will not be an “invasive adversarial order” at all, reports Bar and Bench.
12.09 pm: Singhvi reads out the order in the Karnataka MLAs case where the pro tem speaker was instructed to be appointed and floor test was to be televised, reports Bar and Bench.
12.04 pm: Lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Sena-NCP-Congress alliance, says Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari “should have awaited the test on the floor of the House before going ahead with the swearing-in, reports Live Law.
11.57 am: After meeting the Maharashtra Governor, NCP leader Jayant Patil says he gave him a letter about the legislative party meeting on Saturday, reports ANI.
11.55 am: NCP leaders reach Raj Bhawan with a letter informing the governor that rebel party leader and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar is no longer the legislature party leader, reports PTI.
11.52 am: Advocate Mukul Rohatgi is representing some BJP and Independent MLAs, reports Bar and Bench. He says the case should have “gone through 226 jurisdiction first”.
11.50 am: Sibal begins his arguments. “In the formation of the [state] government, governors have some discretion as is decided by the judgements of this court,” he says, according to Bar and Bench. “It appears that the governor is acting directly under the orders of a political party. The act of [the] governor smacks of bias, is malafide, contrary to all norms.”
11.40 am: Hearing begins. Bench of Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan, and Sanjiv Khanna assemble.
Sibal apologises to the judges for the hearing on a Sunday. “But we are not the only ones to blame,” he says, according to Bar and Bench.
11.32 am: Lawyers Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal to represent the Shiv Sena, Congress, and the NCP alliance. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta likely to appear for the other side, reports Live Law.
11.30 am: “How can those who could not decide their common minimum programme in the last 10 days parade MLAs before the governor in 10 minutes,” says BJP leader Ashish Shelar, according to ANI.
11.28 am: Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and Prithviraj Chavan arrive at the Supreme Court, reports Live Law.
11.19 am: Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, and Devadatt Kamat present at the Supreme Court, minutes ahead of the hearing, reports Bar and Bench. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also seen.
11.14 am: BJP MP Sanjay Kakade meets Sharad Pawar at his residence.
11.12 am: Congress leader Ashok Chavan reaches Sharad Pawar’s residence, reports ANI.
11.02 am: NCP MLA Dilip Walse Patil reaches Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s home for a meeting, reports ANI.
11.01 am: NCP MLA Baban Shinde arrives at party chief Sharad Pawar’s residence, reports ANI.
10.59 am: Shiv Sena moves 55 of its 56 MLAs to Lalit Hotel in Mumbai’s Andheri locality, reports NDTV.
10.55 am: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut says 165 MLAs are with the Sena-Congress alliance, reports PTI. “Maharashtra governor allowed new government to be formed on basis of bogus documents,” he says. “Nov 30 deadline given to prove majority in Maharashtra Assembly only to enable defections.”
10.53 am: BJP’s Ashish Shelar says the party will follow the Supreme Court’s orders, adds that the governor has given time till November 30. “We will prove a majority with 170 MLAs or more than that,” he tells ANI.
10.46 am: NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal says 49 to 50 out of a total 54 MLAs are with the party. “One or two are coming too,” he says, according ANI. “NCP-Congress-Shiv Sena government will be formed in Maharashtra, 100%.”
10.45 am: Congress MLAs shifted to JW Marriott hotel in Mumbai’s Andheri area, reports ANI.
10.41 am: Shelar says the Sena-NCP-Congress plea in the Supreme Court does not challenge the October 30 appointment of Ajit Pawar as the legislature party leader.
10.34 am: The BJP objects to the removal of Ajit Pawar as the leader of the NCP’s Legislature Party, describes it as “invalid”, reports PTI. “The letter of support to the governor was given by Ajit Pawar as leader of the NCP’s Legislature Party,” says BJP leader Ashish Shelar. “Pawar’s replacement with Jayant Patil is invalid.”
10.06 am: On the situation in Maharashtra, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav says, “Ab to lagta hai ki, jiska governor uski sarkar [It seems whichever party the state’s governor belongs to, the government will be from that party],” ANI reports.
10.03 am: Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari meets President Ram Nath Kovind for the Governors’ conference at Kovind’s residence, reports News18.
10 am: Rebel NCP leader and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar leaves from his brother’s residence.
9.50 am: A Supreme Court Bench of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna, and Ashok Bhushan will hear the case at 11.30 am, ANI reports.
9.45 am: NCP MLAs taken to a hotel in Mumbai’s Powai neighbourhood, reports ANI.
9.32 am: The three parties will urge the Supreme Court to pass a directive that will ensure the floor test is done within the next 24 hours to prevent further horse-trading. It will also ask the top court to strike down the governor’s decision, and direct Koshyari to invite its alliance, under Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership, to form the government.
9.30 am: Supreme Court will take up the plea filed by the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress against Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision to invite the BJP to form a government on Saturday.