Written by Vanya Doval – a grade 8 student
It all began when the elections for the 14th legislative assembly of Maharashtra were held for 228 seats on the 21st of October 2019.
The results, which were declared on the 24th Oct showed that BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had secured a majority. They were set to make the government until the Shiv Sena, a member of the NDA , took a total 180 degree turn and declared they were pulling out of the decades old alliance due to political differences surrounding the formation of the government. The BJP which had got 105 seats could not prove their majority (50%+1) without the 56 seats of the Shiv Sena. Since none of the four major parties could prove their majority (BJP with 105, Shiv Sena with 56, NCP with 54 and Congress with 44) , President’s Rule was imposed in Maharashtra by the President of India.
After multiple discussions and secret meetings , three parties – NCP, Congress ( who was initially hesitant to do so due to the conflicting ideologies and the fear of losing their Muslim voters) and Shiv Sena decided to come together to form the government and their alliance came to be known as the “Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi”. Everything was set, the BJP lay defeated and Uddhav Thackeray (the President of the Shiv Sena) was set to be the next Chief Minister of the second most populous state of India. He probably went to sleep with the hope of Shiv Sena at the helm of the government and the BJP finally out of power. On 23 rd November, the three parties were set to meet to finalise their deal. Little did they know, BJP was not one to give up so easily. Hidden under the cloud of these talks another secret deal was taking place.
It began on 22nd of November when all media outlets were covering nothing but the great alliance that was set to stabilize the political crisis that had ensued due to the dissolving of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance.
Ajit Pawar , the nephew of Sharad Pawar ( the chief of the NCP) approached the Governor of Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshiyari in Mumbai and gave him 54 signed letters from the NCP’s winning MLAs, extending their support to the BJP. News of these letters being delivered remained a secret for nearly 20 hours. That night , Devendra Fadnavis from the BJP met the Governor and staked claim to form the government along with 54 MLAs from the NCP, 15 others and 105 from the BJP. He was sworn in as the Chief Minister at the Raj Bhawan . As Mumbai slept, the news was sent to the Centre from where it reached the Rashtrapati Bhawan. At 5:47am on Saturday morning (23rd November) the Central government lifted the President’s rule and by 7:30 am the news hit the internet. People awoke to the newspapers saying Uddhav Thackeray was set to be the next CM and the Internet flashing news about the secret swearing in of Devendra Fadnavis as the CM and Ajit Pawar as his deputy. Confused and bewildered citizens soon realized that BJP had outsmarted their former allies and company.
The question that forms in everybody’s mind is that how did he pull it off without the support of Sharad Pawar ? Well, recently Ajit Pawar had been elected the NCP party leader in the Maharashtra assembly. While his uncle was ironing out the deal with the Shiv Sena and Congress, he was given the responsibility of preparing the letter of support with the 54 signatures of the MLAs . This letter was to be used for the three-party –alliance and had two blank spaces , one for the name of the party the NCP would be supporting and one for the name of the Chief Minister. The NCP alleges that Ajit Pawar misused this letter by filling in the blank spaces himself without consulting the other 54 MLAs or the party president (Sharad Pawar). Many of the MLAs claim that they were duped into going with him and had no idea about what he was upto until it was too late. In their first response to this shocking development on Saturday morning , the NCP distanced itself from Ajit Pawar with Sharad Pawar tweeting that he had taken the decision in his own individual capacity and the NCP didn’t endorse it. Even more hurt and ruffled by what happened, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut hit out by calling BJP’s Fadnavis “hungry for power” and Ajit Pawar a “betrayer”.
But this would achieve nothing and so the NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress decided to take the matter to the floor of the house and the Supreme Court. The three parties approached the Supreme Court and filed writ petitions urging them to hear their case. The Supreme Court ordered a floor test to be conducted to prove the BJPs majority and to prevent further horse trading. Sharad Pawar warned all NCP MLAs that anyone who would support the BJP would be slammed by anti defection laws.( Anti –defection laws imply that any legislator who voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote would lose his membership of the House.)
However , all of this was unnecessary as on 26th of November, Ajit Pawar (deputy CM) handed in his resignation due to “personal reasons” and was immediately claimed by Sharad Pawar as a part of the NCP again. His resignation was soon followed by that of Devendra Fadnavis who had lost his majority without the 54 NCP MLAs. Now, the trio of parties who claim to have the support of 162 MLAs are set to make the government with Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray as the CM. The 59 year old chief said he “never dreamed” of leading Maharashtra and thanked Sonia Gandhi profusely. He is most likely to have his swearing in on the 1st December 2019.What can I say? All’s well that ends well.