Congress president Sonia Gandhi today welcomed the Supreme Court's order to hold a floor test in Maharashtra within 24 hours or by tomorrow. "We will win the floor test," Mrs Gandhi told reporters. "Wait and see what happens tomorrow," she said.
Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Mrs Gandhi's party and their ideological opposite Shiv Sena have stitched together a new alliance - Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi - to try to form government in the state.
The alliance, which claims it has the support of 162 MLAs - 145 is the majority mark in Maharashtra - is hopeful of forming government after the Supreme Court ordered the floor test.
"In a situation wherein, 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 court.
The Supreme Court also ordered Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to ensure that all newly elected MLAs are sworn in by 5 pm on Wednesday. The floor test will take place after that, said a three-judge bench.
The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance had petitioned the Supreme Court against the manner in which Devendra Fadnavis took power, in a secretive oath ceremony on Saturday morning. The alliance had called for an immediate floor test.
Sharad Pawar praised the top court for "upholding democratic values and constitutional principles".
I am grateful to Hon'ble SC for upholding democratic values and constitutional principles. It's heartening that the Maharashtra Verdict came on the #ConstitutionDay, a Tribute to Bharatratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar!— Sharad Pawar (@PawarSpeaks) November 26, 2019
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the top court's decision was a "slap on an illegitimate BJP-Ajit Pawar government". "Supreme Court's decision is a slap on an illegitimate BJP-Ajit Pawar Govt, who had hijacked the 'mandate'. Those who sought to avoid the 'floor test' to rule by stealth & deception stand exposed. A Govt founded on fraud has been defeated on #ConstitutionDay," Mr Surjewala tweeted.
Questions were raised over the compatibility between Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena and the Congress while talks over stitching the new alliance were going on over a week ago. The Sena fell out with the BJP - they fought the assembly election together - after they couldn't agree on a "50:50" formula for chief minister.
Sharad Pawar eventually met with Sonia Gandhi in Delhi to work out the finer details of a possible combine. The Sena then pulled out its only leader in the Union cabinet, Arvind Sawant, to show that it had snapped all its ties with the BJP. This was seen as a signal of its willingness to the Congress for an alliance.