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Fadnavis' swearing in black chapter in India's history, he will have to step down 'shamefully'

By PTI
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New Delhi/Mumbai, Nov 23: The Congress termed the swearing in of Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra chief minister a "black chapter" in India's history and expressed confidence that he will have to step down "shamefully" as all of its and NCP MLAs except a few of the Sharad Pawar-led party are together. The opposition party also exuded confidence that a government of the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena will be formed in the state.

Fadnavis swearing in black chapter in Indias history, he will have to step down shamefully

In a statement, Congress general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal alleged that it is "shameful that the president and the governor have stooped to the standard of RSS workers for facilitating this dissolute political treachery as the chief minister was sworn-in disgracefully under cover of darkness". "Only a few NCP MLAs have fallen into the trap of the BJP. All other MLAs of the Congress and the NCP are with us. This unholy and corrupt political alliance will fall before long," he said.

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Sooner than later, he said, the "illegally" installed BJP government in Maharashtra will go and Fadanvis will have to step down "shamefully" after the floor test in the state legislative assembly as the BJP leader will not be able to prove majority in the House. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asserted that the BJP acted as a "contract killer" of democracy by forming an "illegitimate" government in the state and accused the governor of working as BJP chief Amit Shah's "hitman".

He alleged an "opportunist" Ajit Pawar, the NCP leader who has joined hands with the saffron party, was "scared" by the BJP of being put behind bars. "The BJP and Ajit Pawar have acted like Duryodhan and Shakuni to rip off and cheat a democratic mandate given by the people of Maharashtra. They have actually betrayed the people," Surjewala said. The Congress will fight against this "subversion of the Constitution" both legally and on the floor of House by defeating the confidence motion, he said.

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    At a press conference in Mumbai, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said the "clandestine" manner in which Fadnavis was sworn in as chief minister and NCP's Ajit Pawar his deputy will be written in black ink in the state's history. Patel, accompanied by AICC general secretaries Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Venugopal, former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat and others, dismissed allegations that the Congress delayed formation of a prospective alliance government by withholding its consent for such an arrangement.

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    The senior Congress leaders were in Mumbai to hold talks with the Sena and the NCP to finalise details of government formation. Patel accused the BJP of crossing the limits of "shamelessness" and "shattering" democracy after the Amit Shah-led party formed the government due to a coup by NCP chief Sharad Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar. He, however, said the Sena-Congress-NCP combine will defeat the BJP during the floor test, and the alliance of the three parties will form the government. The three parties will fight the situation on both the political and the legal fronts, said Patel, who has been at the forefront of the Congress, NCP and Sena negotiations.

    BJP's Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday returned as Maharashtra chief minister, propped by NCP's Ajit Pawar, even as NCP chief Sharad Pawar said the decision to side with Fadnavis was his nephew's personal choice and not that of the party. Surjewala also posed questions for the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, such as when was the claim of forming the government presented before the governor, how many MLAs of the BJP and the NCP signed on the claim, and when and how did the governor verify those signatures. He also asked at what time did the governor recommend removal of President's rule, at what time did the Union Cabinet meet last night, who were the ministers present and when did the Union Cabinet recommend to remove the President's rule from Maharashtra.

    "November 23 shall go down in the history of India as a black chapter when an illegitimate government was constituted by a governor acting as a hitman on the Constitution of India at the instance of a home minister who considers the Constitution as his captive instrument," Surjewala said.

    "After scaring an opportunist Ajit Pawar of putting him behind bars, the BJP constituted an illegitimate government in by acting as a contract killer of democracy," he said.

    Surjewala said that prior to the elections, Fadnavis and the BJP had promised to send Ajit Pawar to Arthur Road Jail in the Rs 72,000-crore irrigation scam case, but post the election they have made him the deputy chief minister. Asked if the Congress MLAs will be shifted somewhere else to see they not poached ahead of the floor test, Patel said the parties will work out a strategy.

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    "There was neither band-baja (celebration) nor a procession as the chief minister, the deputy chief minister were sworn-in in a clandestine manner...the incident will be written in black ink in Maharashtra's history," Patel told reporters. He also refused to comment when asked by a journalist whether he believed in NCP chief Sharad Pawar's comment that the latter was clueless about Ajit's move. He also said that there was consensus among the Congress, NCP and the Sena on Uddhav Thackeray becoming the chief minister. "Of course, it is sad. We are disappointed and it is very unfortunate," Patel said, when asked if the Congress was disappointed that a close confidant of Pawar joined hands with the BJP.

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