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SC to hear plea on Maharashtra floor test today; Sena, Cong, NCP keep vigil over MLAs

The three parties have put up their MLAs in hotels in order to guard vulnerable ones against being poached by the BJP and the NCP splinter group.

SNS | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court will on Monday give its decision on Maharashtra floor test as requested in a petition by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine after Saturday’s extraordinary government formation in the state.

The Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party on Saturday moved the Supreme Court, seeking a floor test within 24 hours to avoid further horse-trading and “illegal manoeuvres” in Maharashtra.

The petition sought quashing of Maharashtra Governor BS Koshyari’s decision inviting BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis to form the government on Saturday morning as unconstitutional, arbitrary, illegal, void-ab-initio, and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

“The petitioners are also praying for an immediate floor test within twenty-four hours so as to avoid further horse trading and illegal manoeuvres to somehow cobble up a majority from the Maha Vikas Aghadi,” said the petition.

Terming the Governor’s decision a “brazen action”, the petition, filed late evening, sought the apex court’s direction to the Governor to invite the alliance of Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP “which has the support of more than 144 MLAs to form the Government under the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray”.

The Sena insisted that Governor has installed a minority BJP government which is illegal, unconstitutional and in violation of the well-settled law laid down by the top court. It said its political alliance constitutes a clear majority in the House. “It is submitted that such manoeuvring, at the behest of the BJP through the Governor, to suit their political agenda actually amounts to a death knell to democracy which is a basic feature of our Constitution,” said the petition.

However, the apex court on Sunday said it is not aware of the order of the Maharashtra Governor over government formation in Maharashtra, as they deferred the hearing for Monday.

A three-judge bench of Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna asked the Centre to produce letters of support by 10.30 am on Monday morning – one used by Fadnavis in staking claim to form the government and that of the Governor inviting to form the government – for passing orders.

Meanwhile, the Sena, the Congress and the NCP kept vigil over their MLAs as the BJP deputed senior leaders, including former Chief Minister Narayan Rane — who had earlier been in both the Sena and the Congress — to ensure Fadnavis secures a majority in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.

The three parties have put up their MLAs in hotels in order to guard vulnerable ones against being poached by the BJP and the NCP splinter group.

The Shiv Sena has lodged their MLAS in Hotel Lalit, the Congress in JW Marriott, while the NCP ones are staying in Renaissance.

Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai is on his toes with the Shiv Sainik MLAs. The hotel has been cordoned off and none of them are allowed to leave, while directions on security are being given by Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray’s top aide Milind Narvekar.

The heir apparent Aaditya Thackeray is also meeting the MLAs to keep their morale high.

In NCP, Jitendra Ahwad has been given this task to do the duty and counter any attempt from Ganesh Naik who had switched to the BJP before the elections. Sharad Pawar himself is meeting the MLAs, while Mumbai unit President Nawab Malik is round-the-clock in and around the Renaissance. Jayant Patil is also taking the rounds.

The Congress is more dependent on its Delhi leaders for the job. Initially, the Congress MLAs were to fly out of Mumbai, but anticipating the Supreme Court ruling and on the advice of Sharad Pawar, the party decided to house them in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, NCP leader Nawab Malik told ANI that 52 MLAs have come back to the Sharad Pawar-led party. Two more NCP MLAs, who went reportedly missing after the formation of government in Maharashtra, have returned to Mumbai and are put up at a hotel where other lawmakers are lodged.