The Congress's P Chidambaram tweeted on the Maharashtra political situation this morning, calling it an "egregious violation of the Constitution". The veteran politician was unsparing in his criticism of the ruling BJP's attempted power grab and hit out at Devendra Fadnavis's secretive oath-taking ceremony. The former Union Minister's tweet came shortly after party leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi visited him in Delhi's Tihar Jail, where he has been held for nearly 100 days now in connection with the INX Media case.
"What will remain in memory of Constitution Day 2019 is the most egregious violation of the Constitution in Maharashtra between November 23 and November 26, 2019," Mr Chidambaram said.
"It was an assault on the office of Rasthrapathi (President) to wake him up at 4 am to sign an order revoking President's Rule. Why could it not have waited until 9 am in the morning?" his tweet asked.
It was an assault on the office of Rasthrapathi to wake him up at 4.00 am to sign an order revoking President's Rule.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) November 27, 2019
Why could it not have waited until 9.00 am in the morning?
Mr Fadnavis was sworn-in as Chief Minister at 7.50 am on Saturday, two hours before President Ram Nath Kovind revoked President's Rule in the state; a procedure normally greenlit by the Union Cabinet that was bypassed after the BJP used a loophole that said the Prime Minister could act unilaterally to "meet a situation of extreme urgency".
Congress leader Manish Tewari made a similar point on Tuesday evening in a scathing attack on the BJP, President Kovind and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
The drama that has engulfed Maharashtra since Saturday is expected to end by Thursday with the swearing-in of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as Chief Minister; Mr Thackeray will lead a coalition of the Sena, the Congress and the NCP.
Mr Chidambaram, 74, offered "warm greetings" to the coalition set to rule the state and countered by Mr Fadnavis, who yesterday said it had "3 wheels in different directions".
Warm greetings to the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress Coalition government. Please subordinate your individual party interests and work together to implement the common interests of the three parties - farmers' welfare, investment, employment, social justice and women and child welfare.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) November 27, 2019
"People who observe the evolution of parliamentary democracy will agree that complex, diverse, plural societies are best governed by coalitions that learn to compromise and agree on a Common Minimum Programme," he said, referring to a common agenda that the Congress had insisted on before extending support to the Sena - a party with diametrically opposite ideologies.
Mr Chidambaram, who served as both Home Minister and Finance Minister, also had words of caution for the new alliance, reminding them "to subordinate individual party interests and work (towards) farmers' welfare, investment, employment, social justice and women and child welfare".
The dramatic events of Tuesday - beginning with the Supreme Court's ruling and including the resignations of both Mr Fadnavis and NCP leader Ajit Pawar, his deputy - took place against the backdrop of the nation's 6th Constitution Day.
On the same day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, delivering a speech in parliament, called the Constitution a "holy book".
Opposition parties, which launched vociferous protests in parliament on this issue earlier this week, responded by holding protests near a statue of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
The Gandhi family's visit today was welcomed by Mr Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram, who said it was "unfair" for his father to be kept in remand custody for nearly 100 days.
"It's been 99 days today. It's rather unfair that one needs to be kept in custody for 99 days only as a remand. He is not even an undertrial but on remand. I hope we will get justice in the Supreme Court and he will back home soon," he said.
"We are particularly pleased that both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra came and met him. This sends a very powerful signal - the Congress is completely with my father and this exercise where he is facing the onslaught and wrath of the state in a pure political vendetta case," Chidambaram junior said.
The Supreme Court will hear a bail plea petition by Mr Chidambaram today.
With input from PTI