President's Rule in Maharashtra: Amid current political crisis, a look at state's history with Article 356

FP Staff

Editor's Note: This article has been republished in the light of President's Rule having been imposed in Maharashtra on Tuesday. This was after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari made the recommendation to the President. The governor earlier asked the BJP, Shiv Sena and NCP to expres willingness to form government in the state. However, no political party has been able to muster up the numbers to do so.

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With no clear majority in sight, the impasse over government formation in Maharashtra has led to the imposition of President's Rule in the state.

Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, who hasn't blinked in the protracted battle of nerves with the senior alliance partner, was quoted as saying that the Amit Shah-led party should approach him only if ready to give Sena the chief ministers post.

On Thursday, Thackeray chaired a meeting of Sena's new MLAs for over an hour, during which the legislators reiterated that the "equal sharing of posts and responsibilities" formula agreed upon before the Lok Sabha polls should be implemented.

The Sena MLAs passed a resolution, authorising Uddhav Thackeray to take a "final decision" on government formation in Maharashtra.

The combine emerged as the first contender to form the Maharashtra government for its second term when the results of the Assembly election were announced on 24 October. While the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly with 105 seats in the October Assembly elections, the party saw a dip in its vote share with the loss of 17 seats it had won in 2014.  Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena saw a loss of seven seats with a tally of 56.

However, despite gaining a majority as an alliance, the parties have been at loggerheads in an increasingly muddled faceoff in which neither is willing to blink first. Raut, in fact, claimed that the ongoing stalemate could lead to the imposition of President's Rule in the state.

But this is not the first time that the state is going to be under President's Rule. Maharashtra has been on two different occasions come under this special provision.

What is the President's Rule?

Under Article 356 of the Constitution, the president can take over the administration of a state if the governor submits a report stating that the Assembly is unable to elect a leader as chief minister for a time prescribed by the Governor.

The longest duration that Maharashtra was under President's Rule was for 112 days in 1980 despite the then chief minister Sharad Pawar enjoying majority support in the House. It was again imposed for a period of 32 days in 2014, after then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan resigned following the break-up of 15-year-old Congress-NCP alliance.

112 days in 1980

When Indira Gandhi came back to power in 1980, she dismissed all non-Congress state governments. Nine states ruled by non-Congress parties were dismissed in Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat,  Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Gandhi wanted to ensure that the Congress party was to be the majority in the country,  after the collapse of the Janata Party Government at the Centre. Sharad Pawar was dismissed even though he had won the majority but after Gandhi imposed President's Rule in Maharashtra, he instead become the leader of Opposition party during that year. It was for a period of 112 days, from 17 February 1980 to 8 June 1980.

32 days in 2014

President's Rule was imposed in Maharashtra on 28 September, 2014 following the stepping down of then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan after the end of the 15-year-old Congress-NCP alliance in the state. His resignation was accepted by then governor C Vidyasagar Rao, weeks ahead of the state Assembly elections which had taken place on 15 November, 2014. Hence the governor imposed President's Rule. The NCP had pulled out the alliance after blaming Congress for stalling talks over seat-sharing and accusing Chavan of neglecting the party.

With inputs from agencies

Also See: Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant announces decision to quit as Union minister amid power tussle with BJP in Maharashtra

President's Rule imposed in Maharashtra: Congress and NCP non-committal, but Shiv Sena hopeful; will ensure mandate is respected, says BJP

Maharashtra governor recommends President's Rule: Congress says Bhagat Singh Koshyari acted in a hurry, questions his impartiality

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