"Did President Apply His Mind?" Congress's Manish Tewari On Maharashtra

Maharashtra: Devendra Fadnavis's resignation paves the way for the Sena-Congress-NCP alliance to be invited to form the government, after the three parties paraded their MLAs at a Mumbai hotel on Tuesday evening in a show of strength

Manish Tewari called on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to "take off the Sangh mask"

New Delhi:

What happened in Maharashtra will be recorded in black letters in the history of Indian politics, the Congress's Manish Tewari told reporters on Tuesday, minutes after the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis resigned as Chief Minister ahead of Wednesday's floor test. "Today is Constitution Day... the government celebrated the adoption of the Constitution with an event in parliament, but the manner in which the Constitution was mutilated and totally thrown out of the window in will be recorded in black letters," Mr Tewari raged.

In a strongly-worded statement the Congress leader took aim at both President Ram Nath Kovind and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, questioning their respective roles in the crisis that has engulfed the state from the early hours of Saturday morning.

"Did the President apply his mind? What was the application of mind done? At time was the Governor informed about abrogation of President's rule, at what time was he asked to administer oath so early in the morning?" he asked.

"Saturday's events (were) shameful and condemnable. We hope the top court studies all aspects, as to when letters were handed to (the) Governor from (the) BJP and an ally they found, as to how Governor studied the letters and took decisions," Mr Tewari added.

At 5.47 am on Saturday, barely two hours before Mr Fadnavis and Mr Pawar were sworn in, President Kovind signed a notification revoking President's Rule in the state; such a procedure is normally greenlit by the Union Cabinet but the ruling BJP cited a loophole that said the Prime Minister could act unilaterally to "meet a situation of extreme urgency or unforeseen contingency".

A furious Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP front, which was inches away from forming the government, approached the Supreme Court, calling the ceremony undemocratic and unconstitutional.

On Tuesday morning, the court seemed to agree and ordered a floor test for Wednesday evening. That test has now been rendered moot following the Chief Minister's resignation. "Devendra Fadnavis was illegally sworn-in and quit today," Mr Tewari emphasised.

Mr Fadnavis's resignation now paves the way for the Sena-Congress-NCP alliance to be invited to form the government. The three parties paraded their MLAs at a Mumbai hotel on Monday evening in a show of strength to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, whom the Congress has accused of acting as the BJP's "hitman".

On Saturday, the Congress had put 10 questions to the BJP over its attempt to form the Maharashtra government, including demanding to know how the Governor managed to verify letters of support from 170 MLAs (the number the BJP claimed to have had) between the revocation of President's Rule at 5.47 am and the swearing-in at 7.50 am.

Speaking today Manish Tewari urged the Governor to "take off the Sangh mask" and carry out his constitutional duties.

"We hope (the) Governor would rise above interests, would take off the Sangh mask and fulfil (his) duties... calls the alliance to form the government," he said.

Manish Tewari wasn't the only Congress leader to hit out at the BJP in the aftermath of Mr Fadnavis's resignation. Senior party leader KC Venugopal said: "This is a victory of constitutional democracy. They thought through horse-trading they can make government. This is not only a failure of Devendra Fadnavis but also a slap on faces of their masters sitting in Delhi".

Earlier on Tuesday, the Prime Minister, during a speech inside Central Hall of the parliament building, described the Constitution as a "holy book, a guiding light".

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