Terming the swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra chief minister a "black chapter" in India's history, the Congress on Saturday said the Bharatiya Janata Party acted as a "contract killer" of democracy and the governor once again proved to be BJP chief Amit Shah's "hitman".
Addressing a press conference, Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that an "opportunist" Ajit Pawar, the Nationalist Congress Party 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," he said.
He said the Congress will fight against this "subversion of the Constitution" both legally and on the floor of House by defeating the confidence motion.
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 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.
BJP's Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday returned as Maharashtra CM, propped by NCP's Ajit Pawar, who took oath as deputy chief minister, 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.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered the oath to Fadnavis and Pawar at the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai at around 7.30 am.
Surjewala said that in the history of independent India, this may be the only occasion when in the dead of the night, the Constitution was "subverted, democracy was throttled and rule of law was mowed down by a governor to surreptitiously induct an illegitimate government of the BJP".
"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 Maharashtra 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, but post the election they have made him the deputy chief minister.
"This is only possible in the Modi regime that is why they say 'Modi hai to mumkin hai' (It is possible under Modi)," he said.
Surjewala also asked that acting on which letter did the governor invite Fadnavis and Pawar to take oath, and at what time.
He also cast aspersions on the timing of the oath ceremony and why no media, except a private news agency, no political party representatives, administrative officials of Maharashtra, eminent citizens and the Chief Justice of Maharashtra, were invited for the swearing-in.
"The governor of Maharashtra instead of protecting his constitutional duties has acted as a hitman for Home Minister Amit Shah. To sell the mandate given by the people by auctioning the trust of the legislators has become a norm for the BJP post Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Goa, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Manipur," he said.
Now the BJP is seeking to trample upon the Constitution of India in a similar manner in Maharashtra and this is being done by none less than the Prime Minister of India and the home minister.
Surjewala asked why the governor has not yet made clear how long the Fadnavis government has to prove its majority on the floor of the house.
The Congress has been alleging that the governors of many states are acting at the behest of the BJP.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who was at the forefront of the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena negotiations, said illegal and evil manoeuvres take place in the secrecy of midnight.
"Such was the shame that they had to do the swearing in hiding. This illegitimate formation will self destruct," he said in a tweet.
Earlier, senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi expressed surprise at the political developments in Maharashtra and said the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena negotiations took too long as the window was grabbed by "fast movers".
"Surreal what I read about Maharashtra. Thought it was fake news. Candidly and personally speaking, our tripartite negotiations should not have gone on for more than 3 days...took too long. Window given was grabbed by fast movers. Pawarji tussi great ho! Amazing if true, still not sure," he said in a tweet.
Subsequently, in another tweet, Singhvi said, "My tweet at 8:45 am today while in a taking off flight to Ahmedabad has, hopefully, been overtaken by events in view of Sharadji's clarification. Even then I had called it surreal and possibly fake news. Appears that fakeness of full NCP joining BJP is true as per Pawar clarification."