Congress leader Ahmed Patel has hit out after dramatic overnight events in Maharashtra saw the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis return as Chief Minister for a second term. Mr Patel described the oath-taking ceremony as an "illegal and evil manoeuvre" and said the BJP-NCP alliance that is set to take power in the state was an "illegitimate formation that will self-destruct".
"Illegal and evil manoeuvres take place in the secrecy of midnight Such was the shame that they had to do the swearing in hiding This illegitimate formation will self-destruct," Mr Patel tweeted.
Mr Patel, who is close to interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, had been given the task of negotiating with the NCP and settling on a Common Minimum Programme before an alliance with the Shiv Sena was discussed.
Source said the day's activity started at Raj Bhawan in Mumbai at around 5 am. President's Rule in the state was officially revoked at 5.47 am. At around 8 am Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in and Ajit Pawar, NCP chief Sharad Pawar's nephew, was made Deputy Chief Minister.
As news broke about the surprise move, the Sena and the Congress were left scratching their heads and wondering what had happened.
Government formation in the state had appeared to be a done deal late Saturday night after a lengthy tripartite meeting between the Sena, the Congress and the NCP resulted in Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray being announced as the alliance's Chief Minister.
Hours later the Congress and the Sena were left scratching their heads after Devendra Fadnavis took oath as Chief Minister and Sharad Pawar's nephew, Ajit Pawar, was sworn in as his deputy.
"Maharashtra needed a stable government, not a khichidi shaasan (mishmash government)," Mr Fadnavis said after taking oath, adding that the Shiv Sena "did not follow people's mandate". "We were invited by the Governor to form government. I thank NCP for supporting us," he added.
Congress leaders have begun responding to events in Mumbai, with Abhishek Singhvi lamenting the fact that his party's senior leadership had taken far too long in finalising terms of alliance with the Sena, a party that espouses a dramatically different ideology.
Sanjay Nirupam, who had repeatedly warned his party against allying with the Sena, said the BJP's coup had left the Congress "defamed".
Former Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora tweeted, quoting a line from "The Godfather" that says: "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer".
The Congress party has called the NCP's alliance with the BJP a "betrayal of people's mandate".
Party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: "Do not look at me like this in the light, I am politics, I don't wear clothes.This is called: Betrayal of mandate and democracy."