Mumbai: Sena-NCP-Cong to 'parade' 162 MLAs in Mumbai hotel
NCP leader said the move to parade the MLAs is aimed at "turning the public perception towards us"
Locked in a protracted power tussle with the BJP in Maharashtra, the 'Maha Vikas Aghadi' of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have decided to "parade" 162 MLAs in a Mumbai five-star hotel on Monday evening in a show of united strength. The move was announced hours after the leaders of the three parties submitted a letter to Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari claiming that they have the requisite numbers to form the government.
'We Are 162' displayed at the hotel where all the Sena-NCP-Congress MLAs have gathered for the parade. Picture/Ashish Rane
In a related development on Monday, the Supreme Court has said it will pass an order at 10.30 am on Tuesday on the plea filed by the Sena-NCP-Congress combine against the state governor's decision to swear-in Devendra Fadnavis as CM on November 23. A bench comprising justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan, and Sanjiv Khanna is likely to pass an order on holding of a floor test.
Announcing "parading" the MLAs on his tweeter handle, Sena MP Sanjay Raut has appealed to the governor to witness the assembling of the legislators of the three parties at 7 pm. "We are all one and together, watch our 162 together for the first time at Grand Hyatt at 7 pm, come and watch yourself @maha_governor," Raut tweeted. He tagged the governor's official twitter handle @maha_governor.
Meanwhile, an NCP leader said the move to parade the MLAs is aimed at "turning the public perception towards us". "Once we parade the 162 MLAs in one hall, the entire nation will come to know that the BJP is playing a dirty game in Maharashtra by misusing the office of the governor," he said. The MLAs of the Sena, the NCP, and the Congress were shifted to different hotels in Mumbai on the night of November 23, hours after senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar, in a surprise move, joined hands with the BJP.
After Ajit Pawar submitted a letter to the governor claiming that he has the support of NCP MLAs, the President's Rule, which was in force in the state since November 12, was lifted on early Saturday. Subsequently, the governor administered the oath to Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP as the chief minister and Ajit Pawar as the deputy chief minister. In a retaliatory move, the NCP on Saturday evening removed Ajit Pawar as the legislature leader of the party depriving him of power to issue a whip to NCP MLAs during the floor test.
In the letter submitted to the government, the 'Maha Vikas Aghadi', the post-poll alliance formed by the Sena, Congress, and NCP, claimed it has the majority whereas Fadnavis-led government "lacks required numbers". "Once Fadnavis fails to prove his majority during the floor test, the Shiv Sena's claim for government formation should be considered," the parties said in the letter. The BJP has dubbed the letter "bogus" claiming that technically Ajit Pawar is still the leader of the NCP's legislature wing who has extended support to the BJP.
Meanwhile, the Sena, the NCP, and the Congress are guarding flocks of their MLAs at three hotels in suburban Mumbai. Cadres of the Sena and the NCP are maintaining a tight vigil outside the three hotels, where police personnel are deployed in large numbers. According to sources, the NCP MLAs, who were staying at Hotel Renaissance in Powai area, were moved to Hotel Grand Hyatt in Santacruz and Sofitel in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC).
The Congress legislators are still put up in J W Marriott hotel in suburban Andheri. The MLAs of the Shiv Sena were moved to hotel Lemon Tree in Santacruz from Hotel Lalit near the Mumbai international airport. A Sena leader told reporters outside hotel Grand Hyatt on Monday evening that they were directed to keep a close watch on BJP leaders to "defeat any potential poaching efforts". In the last month's Assembly polls, the BJP won 105 seats, the Shiv Sena 56, the NCP 54 and the Congress 44.
According to sources, Independent legislators and other MLAs could tilt the scales in favour of either the BJP- led government of Fadnavis backed by Ajit Pawar or the Sena-Congress-NCP combine during the floor test.
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