Constitutional experts feel Maharashtra is moving towards President’s rule after two parties, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena, have failed to prove their ability to form the next government.
While BJP, which is the single-largest party with 105 seats, did not stake claim to form the government on Sunday, Sena, with 56 seats, on Monday sought a 48-hour extension of the deadline from the Governor to get Nationalist Congress Party (54 seats) and Congress (44 seats) on board. The Governor, however, refused an extension, and instead invited NCP to form the government.
Experts said the Governor was exploring all options, by giving every political party a chance to stake claim to form the next government.
“BJP was given more than 17 days after the election results, while Sena was asked to prove its majority within 24 hours. All political parties should be given equal time. The Supreme Court verdict in SR Bommai case is very clear about it,” said a retired Supreme Court judge Justice PB Sawant.
The results of the Assembly elections were announced on October 24 and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited BJP on November 9 to form the government.
“After waiting for 16 days after the results, there was no reason to give only 24 hours to Shiv Sena. NCP and Congress, too, should be given reasonable time to stake claim,” Ulhas Bapat, another expert, said.
Former advocate general Shreehari Aney, however, said the Governor has “acted well within his discretion”. “It is a forgone conclusion from the developments in the past two-three days that the Shiv Sena was not getting support from the other two parties. Secondly, it would not be proper to say that Sena got only a day. Their time, too, started from the day of the announcement of the results and nobody had stopped them from gathering proof of support,” he said.
Aney said there would be no need to administer oath to the newly elected legislators if the Governor has to impose President’s rule. “The new Assembly has already come into existence after the Election Commission issued a notification after the end of the term of old Assembly,” he said.
What does President’s rule mean?
Once President’s rule is imposed, the state’s legislative powers are taken up by the Parliament, while the executive powers are under the purview of the President .
President’s rule has to be ratified by the Parliament in two months, after which it can be extended till six months and again for six more months, if elections are not possible within that period .
However, within this time frame, political parties have the right to stake claim to form the government at any point of time.