The Congress hit out at Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre on Tuesday over the imposition of President's rule in the state, saying the action was not only a "cruel joke" on democracy, but also a "malicious act" that tramples upon constitutional practices.
Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also questioned the Maharashtra governor's "arbitrary" allotment of time to the Nationalist Congress Party, the 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 the rulers in Delhi have done a grave injustice to the afflicted farmers and the common people of Maharashtra."
Alleging that the standards set by the Supreme Court have been trashed by such actions, Surjewala claimed that four grave violations of the Constitutional scheme, as expressed in the SR Bommai judgment, stand out.
"In absence of any single party having majority in Maharashtra, Governor should have called; 1. Single largest pre-poll alliance i.e BJP-Shiv Sena together; Then 2. second largest post poll alliance i.e Congress-NCP" he said in a series of tweets.
"In case Governor called individual parties, why did he not call INC. And above all why the completely arbitrary allotment of time? Forty-eight hours to BJP, 24 hours to Sena, not even 24 hours to NCP and not even a minute to the Congress," he said.
This is unashamedly dishonest and politically motivated, Surjewala alleged.
Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi also slammed the governor for his actions, saying this is not President's rule but the "malicious BJP's" political rule.
The Shiv Sena moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday challenging the Maharashtra governor's decision of not granting it three days to submit the letter of support for government formation in the state, but failed to get an urgent hearing in the matter.
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 Centre and claimed 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 told reporters.
A statement tweeted by Koshyari's office said, "He is satisfied that the government cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution, (and therefore) has today submitted a report as contemplated by provision of Article 356 of the Constitution."
Koshyari, who had given the Nationalist Congress Party time till 8.30 pm on Tuesday to express its "willingness and ability" to form government in Maharashtra and time being of the essence, has submitted a report to President Ram Nath Kovind recommending President's rule in the state.
At a joint press conference with the NCP in Mumbai, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel also condemned the imposition of President's rule in Maharashtra, saying his party was not given the chance to stake claim to form government.
Earlier, state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, "I condemn this action which has been taken in a hurry without exhausting all options. This raises questions about the governor's impartiality. This also raises doubt whether the governor is acting under pressure."
Another senior Congressman Vijay Wadettiwar, who was the leader of the opposition in the 13th state assembly, the tenure of which expired on November 9, felt that President's rule will not be a roadblock in government formation.
Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Sushilkumar Shinde echoed a similar views, saying, "Once we have letters of support, the President's rule can be lifted."
Another Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the governor should have invited his party to indicate "willingness and ability" to form government.