Maharashtra: Massive show of strength by Sena-NCP-Congress, parades 162 MLAs

Shiv Sena, NCP, Congress MLAs arrive for show of strength in Mumbai
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray along with NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena MLAs. PTI

Mumbai: In an unprecedented action in Indian politics, the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress combine on Monday organised a public parade of their 162 supporting MLAs in a bid to disprove the claims of 170 legislators made by the Bharatiya Janata Party and its ally Ajit Pawar.

The parade comes barely 12 hours before the scheduled hearing in the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning on the parties' challenge to the new government sworn-in early Saturday morning with Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister and Ajit Pawar as deputy CM, creating a political upheaval in the state.

Besides the enthusiastic 162 MLAs of the three 'Maha Vikas Aghadi' partners, top leaders of all three parties like Sharad Pawar, Supriya Sule, Praful Patel, Jayant Patil, Nawab Malik, Jitendra Awhad (all Nationalist Congress Party), Uddhav Thackeray, Aditya Thackeray, Eknath Shinde, and Sanjay Raut (all Shiv Sena), Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat and Mallikarjuna Kharge (Congress) and others were present.

Abu Asim Azmi of the Samajwadi Party was also at the parade held at the banquet hall of the five star Grand Hyatt hotel in the western suburbs near the airport.

Several leaders addressed the gathering against a backdrop of large hoardings proclaiming "We Are 162" in different corners of the hall.

The leaders assured the gathered legislators - many of them first-timers, from some of the remotest parts of the state - that the three parties are in a full majority and they would soon give a stable alliance government in Maharashtra.

Earlier, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had tweeted, urging Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to come and witness the strength of the alliance.

"We are all one and together, watch our 162 together for the first time at grand Hyatt at 7pm,” Raut tweeted tagging the governor.

Pawar Play

Sharad Pawar assured the leaders present in the meeting that he will bring more than 162 MLAs for the final floor test.

"A misinformation is being spread that Ajit Pawar is the NCP's legislature party leader who would issue a whip to all (NCP) MLAs to vote for the BJP (in floor test). It is being said that whoever defies the whip would lose his membership of the House," Sharad Pawar said at the meeting.

The NCP chief added that he had consulted several constitutional and legal experts and also gone through previous instances on the issue of technicalities.

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray along with NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena MLAs

"I have come to the conclusion that Ajit Pawar, who is removed from his position (as the NCP legislature party leader for joining hands with the BJP in forming a government), has no legal right to issue a whip to MLAs," Pawar said.

"I personally take the responsibility that your membership of the House will not become null and void. People who have acquired power illegally have to be removed now," Pawar said apparently referring to the BJP.

AN NCP leader told PTI that the motive behind the move is to turn the public perception towards them. “Once we parade 162 MLAs in one hall, the entire nation will come to know that BJP is playing a dirty game in Maharashtra by misusing office of the governor," he said.

MLAs of the three parties are currently staying at different hotels in the city.

The Shiv Sena said it had submitted the signatures of 63 MLAs (including independents), while the Congress and the NCP claimed to have submitted signatures of 44 and 51 MLAs respectively.

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