Maharashtra Governor BS Koshyari late on Monday invited the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to form government in the state after the Shiv Sena failed to show letters of support and the Bharatiya Janata Party declined to form a government.
"Our delegation has been invited by the Governor and the indication is that a letter of invitation will be given to us. Tomorrow we shall discuss with the Congress on the ways and means to form the next government," the party's national spokesperson, Nawab Malik, told reporters.
Earlier, senior NCP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar informed the media that he was called by the Governor at 8.30 pm and he was proceeding to the Raj Bhavan for a meeting along with half-a-dozen other leaders but claimed that he had no knowledge as to why he was called.
Malik added that given the short 24-hour time limit, the Congress-NCP could not comply with all the requirements to enable the Shiv Sena to finalise its claim for forming the government.
"The Governor requires letters with signatures, names, constituency names and the number of all the supporting legislators which was difficult to organise at such a short notice. The Sena sought additional time, but the Governor expressed his inability to grant the extension," Malik said.
Seat divide in 2019 Assembly elections
The results of Maharashtra Assembly results declared on October 24 revealed that the Bharatiya Janata Party had won 105 of the total 286 seats. Shiv Sena had secured 56, Congress 44 and the Nationalist Congress Party 54.
The Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi won 3 seats, the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Prahar Janshakti Party and Samajwadi Party won 2 seats each. As many as 13 independents were declared victorious across the state.
Sawbhimani Pakasha, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, Peasants and Workers Party of India, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Krantikari Shetkari Party, Jan Surajya Shakti and Communist Party of India (Marxist) won one seat each.
Invitation to Shiv Sena
The Governor on Sunday had asked the second-largest party in the house, Shiv Sena, to "indicate the willingness and ability" of the party to stake a claim. The regional party was given time till 7.30 pm on November 11 to stake a claim.
Meanwhile, in a move that is being seen as Shiv Sena cutting its ties with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the party's Lok Sabha MP and Union Minister Arvind Sawat resigned from the Narendra Modi government on Monday. "Shiv Sena's side is the truth. Why stay in the government in Delhi in such an environment? That is why I am resigning as Union Minister," Sawant took to Twitter to say.
The BJP reacted to the development and said Sawant was not asked to quit. "We don't have an option but to wait and watch. Despite being the single-largest party we can't form the government. Our party leaders haven't asked Sawant to quit, it's his discretion. He was sworn in as part of council of ministers because Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray gave the name," a BJP leader was quoted as saying by News18.
The BJP, Congress and NCP held core committee meetings on Monday to discuss the political situation in Maharashtra. The Congress remained reluctant to form an alliance with Shiv Sena and working party president Sonia Gandhi reportedly told Uddhav Thackeray that they will "get back to him".
Maharashtra Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had presented a letter of opinion to Sonia Gandhi from the party's Maharashtra MLAs stating an intent to form to an alliance with Shiv Sena. However, it was up to her to take the final call, Kharge had said.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik said on Monday that the NCP will wait until Congress takes a call on the issue at 4 pm. "It is our responsibility to give an alternate government."
"We fought elections together and whatever will be decided, it will be decided together. Congress MLAs are in favour of supporting Shiv Sena-led government, but Congress Working Committee (CWC) is the supreme body to decide on their party line," said Malik.
BJP declines to form government
The BJP president in Maharashtra, Chandrakant Patil, said after a meeting with the state Governor, BS Koshyari, on Sunday that the BJP will not form government in the state.
"Despite the mandate with the alliance with Shiv Sena, we will not form government. The Shiv Sena wants to insult the people's mandate. We have conveyed to the Governor that we will not form the state government," said Patil. He added that the Shiv Sena can go ahead and form a government in alliance with the Congress. "They have our blessing."
Hours before the announcement, the BJP's core committee in Maharashtra held a meeting to discuss the course of action on Governor's invite to form the government. The Governor had asked Devendra Fadnavis, the leader of the elected members of the single-largest party, to indicate the willingness and ability of his party to form the government in Maharashtra.
"Elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly were held on 21 October and the results were declared on 24 October. However, despite the passage of 15 days, no single party or alliance of parties has come forward to form the government," the Governor's statement read.
Following BJP's declaration, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had said that the party will install a Shiv Sena Chief Minister in the state. "Uddhav Thackeray told Sena MLAs that the party will install its CM in Maharashtra," Raut said.
Rotational Chief Minister
After the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance got a clear majority, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party had insisted on a 50:50 model of holding the Chief Minister's post for two-and-a-half years. However, the BJP was not ready to discuss the sharing of CM's seat and Shiv Sena refused to come to any other agreement with the party.