Ahead of SC ruling, 162 Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress MLAs take oath at joint parade

PTI11_25_2019_000233B_1574695011384_1574695027406MUMBAI : In an unprecedented action in Indian politics, the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress combine on Monday organised a public parade of their 162 supporting MLAs at a five-star hotel in Mumbai this evening for a show of strength and administered a “oath of allegiance” hours after the three parties staked claim to power.
“I will not fall prey to any offer. I will not help the BJP in anyway. I will not indulge in any anti-party activities,” the MLAs repeated, with a palm-out salute as they pledged not to betray their parties.
“We are 162” posters had been put up in the in a bid to disprove the claims of 170 legislators made by the BJP and its ally Ajit Pawar. The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress MLAs took oath at the joint parade to not to fall prey to any inducements by BJP.
The dramatic parade, at a hotel here, came barely 12 hours before the scheduled hearing in the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning on the parties’ challenge to the new government sworn-in early Saturday morning with Devendra Fadnavis as Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy, creating a political upheaval in the state.

Besides the enthusiastic 162 MLAs of the three ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ partners, top leaders of all three parties like Sharad Pawar, Supriya Sule, Praful Patel, Jayant Patil, Nawab Malik, Jitendra Awhad (all Nationalist Congress Party), Uddhav Thackeray, Aditya Thackeray, Eknath Shinde, and Sanjay Raut (all Shiv Sena), Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat and Mallikarjuna Kharge (Congress) and others were present.
The Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress gathered their  conference hall where the MLAs gathered, a giant image of the Constitution of India also in the backdrop. NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule, and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya Thackeray, were present as the MLAs chatted animatedly, took selfies, flashed victory signs and worked the room.
A “wide-angle camera” would be needed to capture the gathering, said Uddhav Thackeray as he addressed the gathering. “We believe in Satyameva Jayate. We dare anyone to try and break us,” said the Shiv Sena chief. Sharad Pawar reiterated that all NCP MLAs were with him. “162 MLAs are here, we have a majority,” he said.

The Sena’s Sanjay Raut had “invited” Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to attend the MLAs’ parade. “We are all one and together , watch our 162 together for the first time at grand Hyatt at 7 pm , come and watch yourself, Maharashtra Governor (sic),” Mr Raut had tweeted.
The three-party alliance, which calls itself the “Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi”, approached the Governor three days after the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as Chief Minister with the NCP’s Ajit Pawar as his deputy, in an early morning oath ceremony that left everyone in shock.
Ajit Pawar, the nephew of Sharad Pawar, had attended a meeting hours before on Friday evening, when the three parties had declared that they would form an alliance headed by Uddhav Thackeray as Chief Minister.
“Ajit Pawar tried to project that he had my blessings but he did this on his own. He though NCP MLAs would leave with him but they didn’t. This is Maharashtra, not Goa and we know how to teach a lesson to those playing with fire, especially with the Sena on our side. You don’t get power by playing these games here,” said Pawar senior to applause and cheers from the MLAs’ gathering.

The BJP rejected the show of strength as party leader Ashish Shelar said, “Identification parade is done for criminal suspects… it is no floor test. It is a failed attempt to boost self-confidence. BJP and Ajit Pawar will ensure photo finish. Were even 145 MLAs present?””

How can you have an identification parade of duly elected lawmakers of the state like criminals? It”s a shame on the people of the state and violates democratic norms,” asked former state minister Ashish Shelar of the BJP.
The Sena, NCP and Congress have petitioned the Supreme Court against the Governor’s invite to the BJP and have asked for a trust vote at the earliest. The court will announce its decision tomorrow.

In the Supreme Court, the Sena-NCP-Congress claimed the support of 154 MLAs, a few short of the number of signatures given to the Governor. The NCP says the signatures are missing because lawmakers were on their way back at the time.The BJP, which won 105 seats in the 288-member assembly, told the court it has the support of 170 MLAs, including all 54 of the NCP.
Sharad Pawar says 53 NCP MLAs are with the party. Three NCP signatures missing from the letter submitted to the Governor this morning are those of Ajit Pawar, Anna Bansod and Narhari Zhirwal.

No party won a majority in last month’s Maharashtra polls. Pre-polls allies BJP and Sena won a majority together, but split over the Sena’s demand for rotational chief ministership.
(Mumbai Bureau with Agency Inputs ).




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