Amid Tussle, President’s Rule in Maharashtra: What Does This Mean

What is the President’s rule and why was it imposed in Maharashtra? 

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What is the President’s rule and why was it imposed in Maharashtra? 
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Snapshot

Following a 19-day-long political impasse in Maharashtra, President’s rule came into force in the state on Tuesday, 12 November, after political parties failed to stake claim to form the next government.

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari sent a report to the Centre stating that formation of a stable government was “impossible in the current situation despite all his efforts.”

So, what is the President’s rule? Why was it imposed and how does it affect the people of the state?

Amid Tussle, President’s Rule in Maharashtra: What Does This Mean

  1. 1. Why Was It Imposed in Maharashtra

    In the 21 October Assembly election, the results of which were declared on 24 October, the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 105 seats followed by the Shiv Sena 56, the NCP 54 and the Congress 44.

    However, the political impasse lingered on for the 19th day after the results were declared, with the Congress and the NCP saying that they have not yet taken any decision on Shiv Sena's proposal of forming the government.

    The BJP, on the other hand, does not have the numbers to form the government independently.

    The Union Cabinet recommended that the President issue a Proclamation under Article 356(1) of the Constitution imposing President's rule in Maharashtra and keep the state legislative Assembly under suspended animation.

    The governor, on his part, noted that he made attempts to explore the possibility of formation of government by having appropriate communications with all political parties which could have formed the government in alliance with other political parties, but they have not succeeded – prompting the imposition of President’s rule.

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  2. 2. What Does President's Rule Mean

    Article 356 of the Constitution provides for the imposition of President’s rule in case of “failure of the constitutional machinery in the state”.

    This implies the suspension of the state government and direct rule by the Centre.

    It comes into force when the President invokes Article 356 of the constitution – after receiving a report from the Governor and on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers.

    While it is called the ‘President’s rule,’ it is the Governor who acts as the constitutional head of the state and the “representative” of the Centre. The chief minister’s office and the state Cabinet remains vacant for this period.

    Essentially, all the state departments will be reporting to their corresponding central agency, but via the governor. For example, the Maharashtra Police will report to the Governor and through him to the Union Home Ministry.

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  3. 3. How Long Can the President's Rule Continue

    Once approved by both the Houses of the Parliament, the President's rule can continue for a period of six months and can be extended to a maximum of three years.

    However, Parliament approval of the President’s rule is needed every six months.

    In the meantime, if any political solution emerges and a party claims it can prove majority on the floor of the House, President’s rule can be dissolved.

    During this period, neither will major policy decisions be made nor will big projects be sanctioned for the state.

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  4. 4. Shiv Sena, Congress-NCP Protest President's Rule

    Congress' Kapil Sibal, who will represent the Shiv Sena in the apex court, told reporters that the Maharashtra Governor is working on the directions of the BJP-led central government and alleged that President's rule has been imposed to facilitate horse-trading.

    "That is the whole purpose of the exercise. Allow President's rule, give sufficient time to yourself and then use money power, get others' legislators on board. This is misuse of authority and highly immoral," he said.

    Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala too questioned the Maharashtra governor's "arbitrary" allotment of time to the NCP, Shiv Sena and the BJP to prove support for government formation.

    "The imposition of President's rule in Maharashtra is not only a cruel joke on democracy, but also a malicious act that tramples upon constitutional practices," he said, adding, "The governor and rulers in Delhi have done a grave injustice to the afflicted farmers and the common people of Maharashtra."

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  5. 5. Maharashtra's History With President's Rule

    This is the third instance of imposition of President's rule in Maharashtra.

    The first of it was in February 1980 when the Indira Gandhi government dismissed the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) government headed by Sharad Pawar.

    Pawar was chief minister from 1978 to 1980. He had formed the PDF after toppling the Vasantdada Patil-led Congress government in 1978. Gandhi dismissed the PDF government after returning to power at the Centre in the 1980 Lok Sabha polls.

    The state saw the second spell of President's rule after 34 years. President's rule was imposed after Prithviraj Chavan resigned as chief minister following withdrawal of support by ally NCP to the Congress-led government on 28 September 2014.

    The two allies had drifted apart on the issue of equal sharing of Assembly seats and chief minister’s post. The 2014 Assembly election was held when the state was under President’s rule.

    After the Assembly election of October 2014, the BJP came to power under Devendra Fadnavis and the Sena later joined his government. The BJP and the Sena had fought that election separately.

    (With inputs from PTI, The Indian Express and News18)

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Why Was It Imposed in Maharashtra

In the 21 October Assembly election, the results of which were declared on 24 October, the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 105 seats followed by the Shiv Sena 56, the NCP 54 and the Congress 44.

However, the political impasse lingered on for the 19th day after the results were declared, with the Congress and the NCP saying that they have not yet taken any decision on Shiv Sena's proposal of forming the government.

The BJP, on the other hand, does not have the numbers to form the government independently.

The Union Cabinet recommended that the President issue a Proclamation under Article 356(1) of the Constitution imposing President's rule in Maharashtra and keep the state legislative Assembly under suspended animation.

The governor, on his part, noted that he made attempts to explore the possibility of formation of government by having appropriate communications with all political parties which could have formed the government in alliance with other political parties, but they have not succeeded – prompting the imposition of President’s rule.

What Does President's Rule Mean

Article 356 of the Constitution provides for the imposition of President’s rule in case of “failure of the constitutional machinery in the state”.

This implies the suspension of the state government and direct rule by the Centre.

It comes into force when the President invokes Article 356 of the constitution – after receiving a report from the Governor and on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers.

While it is called the ‘President’s rule,’ it is the Governor who acts as the constitutional head of the state and the “representative” of the Centre. The chief minister’s office and the state Cabinet remains vacant for this period.

Essentially, all the state departments will be reporting to their corresponding central agency, but via the governor. For example, the Maharashtra Police will report to the Governor and through him to the Union Home Ministry.

How Long Can the President's Rule Continue

Once approved by both the Houses of the Parliament, the President's rule can continue for a period of six months and can be extended to a maximum of three years.

However, Parliament approval of the President’s rule is needed every six months.

In the meantime, if any political solution emerges and a party claims it can prove majority on the floor of the House, President’s rule can be dissolved.

During this period, neither will major policy decisions be made nor will big projects be sanctioned for the state.

Shiv Sena, Congress-NCP Protest President's Rule

Congress' Kapil Sibal, who will represent the Shiv Sena in the apex court, told reporters that the Maharashtra Governor is working on the directions of the BJP-led central government and alleged that President's rule has been imposed to facilitate horse-trading.

"That is the whole purpose of the exercise. Allow President's rule, give sufficient time to yourself and then use money power, get others' legislators on board. This is misuse of authority and highly immoral," he said.

Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala too questioned the Maharashtra governor's "arbitrary" allotment of time to the NCP, Shiv Sena and the BJP to prove support for government formation.

"The imposition of President's rule in Maharashtra is not only a cruel joke on democracy, but also a malicious act that tramples upon constitutional practices," he said, adding, "The governor and rulers in Delhi have done a grave injustice to the afflicted farmers and the common people of Maharashtra."

Maharashtra's History With President's Rule

This is the third instance of imposition of President's rule in Maharashtra.

The first of it was in February 1980 when the Indira Gandhi government dismissed the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) government headed by Sharad Pawar.

Pawar was chief minister from 1978 to 1980. He had formed the PDF after toppling the Vasantdada Patil-led Congress government in 1978. Gandhi dismissed the PDF government after returning to power at the Centre in the 1980 Lok Sabha polls.

The state saw the second spell of President's rule after 34 years. President's rule was imposed after Prithviraj Chavan resigned as chief minister following withdrawal of support by ally NCP to the Congress-led government on 28 September 2014.

The two allies had drifted apart on the issue of equal sharing of Assembly seats and chief minister’s post. The 2014 Assembly election was held when the state was under President’s rule.

After the Assembly election of October 2014, the BJP came to power under Devendra Fadnavis and the Sena later joined his government. The BJP and the Sena had fought that election separately.

(With inputs from PTI, The Indian Express and News18)

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