Devendra Fadnavis has resigned as Maharashtra Chief Minister a day before he was to face a floor test ordered by the Supreme Court.His announcement followed that of Ajit Pawar, who quit as his deputy.
“Ajit Pawar gave me his resignation. BJP had decided from the first day we will not indulge in horse-trading.We only decided to form government because NCP was with us.Since he has resigned,I will also resign,” Mr Fadnavis told reporters.
“The BJP had the people’s mandate.We tried to form a government according to the people’s mandate but the Shiv Sena realized it was a numbers game and we realized their bargaining power could increase,” he added.
The resignation came after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, the two top leaders of the BJP, right after the Supreme Court ordered Devendra Fadnavis to face a trust vote.
The big two reportedly discussed the party’s options in Maharashtra, whether Mr Fadnavis should quit or go through with a floor test that would be tough for the BJP to win. A message from the leadership went to Mr Fadnavis after the meeting.
The BJP won 105 seats in the 288-member state assembly and needed 40 more for a majority. Mr Fadnavis claimed the support of 170 MLAs, but a major component was the presumptive support of 54 NCP MLAs, as claimed by Ajit Pawar, their leader in the assembly.
Ajit Pawar’s overnight switch was key to the BJP’s surprise comeback. He displayed confidence that he would have the support of all 54 MLAs.
All NCP MLAs appeared to return to the party fold and more than 50 also participated in a show of strength at a five-star hotel in Mumbai last evening.
It became increasingly apparent that the Ajit Pawar was isolated within his own party and that the BJP may not have enough MLAs after all.
This morning, responding to the Sena-Congress-NCP petition, the Supreme Court ordered the Fadnavis government to prove its majority “within 24 hours” in a televised test of strength.
“If the floor test is delayed, there is a possibility of horse-trading, it becomes incumbent upon the Court to act to protect democratic values. An immediate floor test, in such a case, might be the most effective mechanism to do so,” said the Supreme Court.
Mr Fadnavis formally assumed charge, signed a relief cheque and also held the first meeting of his new term. But Ajit Pawar did not officially join. He was also missing from the Chief Minister’s meeting last evening and he skipped a memorial for 26/11 martyrs this morning.