Mumbai/New Delhi [India], Nov 23 (ANI): On a day of dramatic and fast-paced developments, Devendra Fadnavis took oath as Chief Minister of Maharashtra and NCP leader Ajit Pawar as his deputy with the surprise move on Saturday morning nixing plan of Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP to stake claim to form the government and declare Uddhav Thackeray as the chief minister of a non-BJP government.
The political stunner forced the leaderships of three parties to huddle into meetings to chart the next course of action. By the end of the day, the NCP had removed Ajit Pawar as the leader of its legislative party. Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena had jointly moved the Supreme Court against the action of Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to allow the formation of a BJP-led government. The top court will hear the case on Sunday.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, who had announced on Friday that there was agreement on making Thackeray the chief minister, held a joint press conference with the Shiv Sena leader and said that the decision of his nephew Ajit Pawar to align with BJP was against the party line and any MLA who aligns with him is likely to face anti-defection law.
Pawar said that they have the numbers and will form the government. Three party MLAs who were with Ajit Pawar at Raj Bhavan were also present at the joint press conference and said they were not aware of the fact that oath-taking will be held.
The oath-taking took place after the President's Rule was revoked early Saturday morning. It took place a month after the declaration of results of Maharashtra assembly elections in which the BJP-Shiv Sena won an absolute majority but could not form the government over differences on power-sharing.
NCP leader Nawab Malik, who addressed the media after the meeting of party legislators, said: "Five party MLAs were not in contact with us."
"Six are about to arrive and rest have arrived," Malik said, adding that Ajit Pawar has been removed as the NCP's legislative party leader and Jayant Patil has been given the responsibility of the legislative party leader till the appointment of a new leader.
Thackeray, who parted ways with the BJP over his demand of a rotational chief minister, slammed the party and said it had carried out the 'furgical' strike in Maharashtra.
"Earlier EVM 'Khel' was going on and now this is new 'Khel.' From here onwards I don't think elections are even needed. Everyone knows what Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj did when betrayed and attacked from behind. Let them try to break Shiv Sena MLAs, we will not keep quiet," he said.
Sharad Pawar's daughter and NCP MP Supriya Sule said "party and family split" in her status on the messaging app WhatsApp.
The Congress, which slammed the Governor's action and termed it a black-chapter in the history of the country, held a meeting of its MLAs and decided to shift them to a party ruled state. NCP shifted its MLAs to a hotel.
Congress leader Ahmed Patel told reporters in Mumbai that the manner in which the government was sworn in was a "black spot" in the history of Maharashtra and nothing can be more "shameful" than this.
He dismissed the allegation that the Congress delayed government formation in Maharashtra with the support of NCP and Shiv Sena.
He also said that the party was "disappointed and sad" at NCP leader Ajit backing the BJP in government formation in Maharashtra and the development had taken the party by surprise.
"Of course we are disappointed. It is very sad. It is very unfortunate," he said.
However, BJP leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who addressed a press conference in New Delhi, said the BJP-led alliance got "moral and electoral victory" in Maharashtra under the leadership of Fadnavis and BJP supporters played a big role in the success of Shiv Sena's candidates in Maharashtra assembly elections.
He also attacked the Shiv Sena and accused it of joining hands with its opponents and dismissed accusations that the BJP was committing "murder of democracy."
"When the Shiv Sena breaks a 30-year-old alliance and tries to join hands with its opponents, is it not murdering democracy? But when a big group comes with Ajit Pawar to form a stable government under Fadnavis, then it is called the murder of democracy," Prasad said.
He said the Shiv Sena had joined hands with its opponents and betrayed the legacy of party leader Bal Thackeray.
Prasad said Mumbai was the financial capital of the country and there was an attempt to control it through the backdoor.
"Mumbai is the financial capital of India and Maharashtra is a big state. It was a conspiracy to control Mumbai through the backdoor," he said.
"Both Congress and NCP had publicly said that they had got the mandate to sit in the opposition. The country should know how they entered in a match-fixing to grab the chair," he added.
He also defended the action of the Governor, saying that there was no claim of Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena before him.
Meanwhile, Fadnavis said that he will provide a stable government in the state.
"I would like to express my gratitude to NCP's Ajit Pawarji for taking the decision and coming together with BJP for a stable government in Maharashtra. Some other leaders also came with us," Fadnavis told ANI.
"The Governor requested the President to withdraw the President's rule in Maharashtra and invited us to form the government,' he said.
Fadnavis also hit out at his former ally Shiv Sena and said that they tried to have an alliance with other parties even the people had given a clear mandate.
"I extend my gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national president Amit Shah and working president JP Nadda for giving me chance to serve Maharashtra as the Chief Minister again," he said.
Ajit Pawar said that it's more suitable for two parties (BJP-NCP) to come together to form a government rather than three parties (NCP-Congress-Shiv Sena) to strive for it.
"The mandate was in clear favour to none and it was not possible for any party to form the government alone. Two-three parties have to come together to form the government however, eventually, two parties coming together and forming a government is more suitable," Pawar said after taking the oath.
BJP's move came at a time when the three parties were on the verge of declaring their alliance and power-sharing agreement.
BJP and Shiv Sena alliance won a majority in the Maharashtra assembly polls but could not form a government due to differences. Shiv Sena insisted on getting the post of chief minister for two-and-a-half years but BJP said there was no such understanding between the two parties.
While BJP, which emerged as the single-largest party in the 288-member assembly with 105 seats, did not stake the claim, Shiv Sena and NCP could not provide support in the given time. President's Rule was imposed in the state on November 12. The Shiv Sena has 56 MLAs, NCP 54 and Congress 44. (ANI)