MUMBAI: Interpretation of legal issues related to Ajit Pawar’s status as NCP legislature party leader and his powers to issue whip to all NCP MLAs has emerged as the key issues in the whole of Maharashtra government formation drama.
On Sunday evening in a series of intriguing tweets Ajit Pawar sported his identity as “Deputy Chief Minister, Maharashtra” and “Nationalist Congress Party leader” and vouched for his loyalty to the NCP and Sharad Pawar yet stressed the existence of BJP-NCP alliance.
“I am in the NCP and shall always be in the NCP and @PawarSpeaks (Sharad Pawar) Saheb is our leader. Our BJP-NCP alliance shall provide a stable Government in Maharashtra for the next five years which will work sincerely for the welfare of the State and its people,” Ajit Pawar said in his tweet on Sunday evening.
“There is absolutely no need to worry, all is well. However, a little patience is required. Thank you very much for all your support,” he said in the following tweet.
“The NCP MLAs should take the correct message from this. The tweet is in line with our contention that Ajit Pawar is still the leader of NCP legislature party and has the authority to issue whip,” said BJP leader Adv Ashish Shelar while reacting to the development.
Shelar also said that the fact that Supreme Court has sought to see the papers submitted by Ajit Pawar before the Governor, too strengthens the contention that Ajit Pawar still is the NCP legislature party leader.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, however, tried to brush off his nephew Ajit's tweet as false and misleading. He also made it clear that the NCP doesn’t have any intention to form an alliance with the BJP when it has already decided to go with the Shiv Sena and the Congress.
“There is no question of forming an alliance with @BJP4Maharashtra. NCP has unanimously decided to ally with @ShivSena & @INCMaharashtra to form the government. Shri Ajit Pawar’s statement is false and misleading in order to create confusion and false perception among the people,” Sharad Pawar said in a tweet.
Lawyers are divided over the BJP’s contention that Ajit Pawar is still the NCP legislature party leader.
According to Adv Ravindra Lokhnde, additional advocate general of Arunachal Pradesh, the Supreme Court today has tried to ascertain whether the governor’s decision to call in Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar is not arbitrary or based on whims. He also opined that the court has very limited powers in deciding who can be le leader of the legislature party.
Another senior Supreme Court lawyer Adv Jitendra Mohan Sharma, however, said that in his opinion the right to issue whip lies with the party and not a person and hence Ajit Pawar can’t claim he is the leader of the NCP legislature party and that he holds the powers to issue whip in that capacity.
Former Principal Secretary of the State Legislature Secretariat Dr. Anant Kalse, however, pointed out that the Speaker of the house is the only competent authority to take decision about the change in legislature party leader.
“Neither the governor nor the court has any powers in changing the legislature party leader decided by the party. Only Speaker of the house can do that if the members have disobeyed whip issued by the party,” Kalse said.
In the current case of Maharashtra, the assembly is yet to be formed and the Speaker is yet to be selected. While some experts are interpreting it as the since there is no Speaker, the issue of change of legislature party leader can’t be changed and hence Ajit Pawar will decide the course of the NCP. However, others feel that the issue is open for interpretation and the Supreme Court will give its opinion on it.
This interpretation of the legal and legislative tangle will decide the fate of Ajit Pawar and the Maharashtra government.