Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s office on Monday told the Supreme Court that he was not expected to conduct a roving and fishing inquiry once he received letters of support that indicated Devendra Fadnavis had the support of 170 MLAs. The Supeme Court, which heard the two sides for a little over an hour, later reserved their verdict on the request by the coalition of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress that wanted the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government to quickly face the floor test.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the governor’s secretary, told a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court that Raj Bhavan had received a letter from Ajit Pawar extending support a Devendra Fadnavis-led government. This letter had the signatures of 54 MLAs of the Nationalist Congress Party.
The governor had no reason to disbelieve him, Mehta told a special bench led by Justice NV Ramana, insisting that Raj Bhavan had to go by the material placed before him.
“This is not a question of horse trading but an entire stable going the other way,” Mehta told told the top court.
Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Devendra Fadnavis, backed Raj Bhavan, insisting that the governor had acted like a reasonable person.
“The Governor went by largest party with the support of 170 MLAs. They have never claimed that signatures of their MLAs are forged,” Rohatgi said, underscoring that the Supreme Court could not step in to set a date for the floor test.
Chief Minister Fadnavis and his deputy Ajit Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party were sworn in by Koshyari in a hurriedly-convened oath ceremony at Raj Bhavan on Saturday morning. Ajit Pawar, who was the NCP legislature party chief, was removed soon after. NCP boss Sharad Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule said he didn’t have the mandate to pledge the support of NCP’s 54 MLAs to BJP-led by Fadvanvis and his party had tied up with the Shiv Sena and the Congress alliance.
Later, the NCP came around to acknowledging that a handful of its lawmakers may side with Ajit Pawar in a trust vote as and when it is announced. But the party, Sharad Pawar insisted, was firmly with the Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi.
If less than two-thirds of the MLAs side with Ajit Pawar, they may face proceedings under the anti-defection law.