oppn parties Did The Maharashtra Governor Have Any Choice? Could He Have Waited Indefinitely?

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Death toll reaches 27 as Covid-19 cases across India reach 974 on Saturday
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Did The Maharashtra Governor Have Any Choice? Could He Have Waited Indefinitely?

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

The Maharashtra Governor finally recommended that President's Rule be imposed in the state as no party or grouping was able to form the government even after 20 days of the declaration of the results of the assembly elections. The Union Cabinet met to discuss the same and forwarded it to the President who gave his assent. That brought the curtains down, for the time being, on a situation where, apart from the BJP, all other parties were hopeful of forming the government but did not know when they would be able to come to an understanding. Could the Governor have waited indefinitely for this or that leader of this or that party to make up his or her mind?

As per convention, the Governor gave the first shot to the BJP for being the single largest party. When it expressed its inability to form the government, the Governor moved on to the next largest party, the Shiv Sena. The Sena asked for a period of three days to come up with a response. The Governor used his discretion to deny this and asked the next biggest party, the NCP to take a shot. The NCP did even worse. It had time till 8 pm on Tuesday but it called the Governor as early as 11 am on the appointed day and asked for more time. Since the Governor had already denied time extension to the Shiv Sena, it could not do it for the NCP. Hence, he was left with no alternative than to recommend President's rule.

Of course, the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress would not like it. The Sena has said that the Governor is acting at the "behest" of the BJP. It has already filed a petition in the Supreme Court saying that the Governor acted unconstitutionally and arbitrarily by denying it more time. It has asked for an urgent hearing. The Congress has termed it a "travesty of democracy" while the CPI(M) has called it "unconstitutional and undemocratic". The latter two parties have based the charges on the Bommai judgment where the Supreme Court had ruled that the best place to test the strength of the government was on the floor of the assembly.

But are they right? The Supreme Court had clearly said that it was proper to impose President's rule in cases

·         Where after general elections to the assembly, no party secures a majority, that is, it is a hung assembly.

·         Where the party having a majority in the assembly declines to form a ministry and the governor cannot find a coalition ministry commanding a majority in the assembly.

In the instant case, the Governor explored all options before recommending President's rule. As for giving time, it is the Governor's prerogative to decide how much time is enough. He cannot wait indefinitely for the parties to come to an understanding. They had a time of more than 20 days. Yet, their ideological differences and the fact that they fought elections against each other prevented the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress to come together to form the government. Now, they are playing to the gallery by showing injured innocence and blaming the Governor.