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Maharashtra Crisis: SC hearing to continue tomorrow

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre and Maharashtra government on a petition filed by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Cong combine against the Maharashtra Governor’s decision to swear in Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister.

A bench of Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna also issued notices to Fadnavis and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. The bench also asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to produce letters of the Governor tomorrow at 10.30am for passing orders.

SC issued notices to Maharashtra government and the Centre on Sena-NCP-Congress petition seeking composite floor test while challenging invitation to Fadnavis to form the government.

Kapil Sibal, representing Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP, told SC that Devendra Fadnavis must take the floor test immediately arguing that any delay in doing so will increase the chances of horse-trading in the state.

The Supreme Court on Sunday began hearing the petition of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress against Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision to invite the Bharatiya Janata Party to form the government in Maharashtra early on Saturday.

The proceedings began around 11.30 am after an urgent hearing was sought on Saturday night. The plea asked for a floor test to be conducted within 24 hours to prevent further horse-trading.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in early on Saturday after a breakaway faction of the NCP, led by Ajit Pawar, supported the BJP. It came as a shock to the Sena, Congress and the NCP, which were gearing up to stake claim to form the government. Pawar took oath as the deputy chief minister on the same day.

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Trump knew exactly what was going on: Giuliani aide

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Washington: An aide to Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has said that the US President “knew exactly what was going on” regarding efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, it was reported on Thursday.

Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnass, who is facing separate criminal charges, made the comments in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday after letters, phone records, notes and flash drives were obtained from him earlier this week, the BBC said in a report.

Documents show that the Ukraine-born Parnas was in regular contact with Giuliani as well as Ukrainian officials, and suggests that the businessman was directly involved in trying to have Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky look into the Bidens.

In the interview, Parnas said Trump was “aware of all my movements”.

“I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the President. Why would President Zelensky’s inner circle or (Interior) Minister (Arsen) Avakov or all these people or (former) President (Petro) Poroshenko meet with me?

“Who am I? They were told to meet with me. And that’s the secret that they’re trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work,” he added.

Parnas further said that the President was lying and knew that unless there was an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was a director of a Ukrainian gas company, military aid to Kiev would be withheld.

He also claimed that the investigation was about digging up dirt on Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, some of the materials obtained show Parnas and Giuliani discussing the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, the then US ambassador to Ukraine, said the BBC report.

In Wednesday’s interview, Parnas claimed the only motivation to get Yovanovitch removed from her post was because she was in the way of the effort to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into Joe Biden.

Trump was impeached by the Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives on December 18, 2019 and is accused of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The two articles of impeachment were sent to the Republican-majority Senate on Wednesday night, paving the way for the starting of a trial against the President.

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