With political temperatures soaring in Maharashtra over formation of the state executive government, speculations over specific outcomes of this political skirmish are certainly ripe. Winning a clear majority in the elections BJP-Shiv Sena alliance with its 161 seats in the 288 seat Maharashtra assembly was certainly poised to retain power with CM Devendra Fadnavis continuing for his second term. However for Shiv Sena, despite being a junior partner in the alliance with just half (56) the seats compared to its alliance partner the BJP (105), ambitions have evidently pushed the Maharashtra based party to demand a larger cut of the cake.
Shiv Sena has been demanding the CM chair for half term (2.5 years) despite the fact that the party won 56 seats at strike below 50 percent (it won 56 out of 124). BJP, which won 105 seats and had around 70 percent strike rate (it won 105 out of 152), is not ready to give up on the CM chair and has stood behind its candidate while pointing out that the people have voted for the NDA with Devendra Fadnavis as the CM face. BJP claims are further substantiated given Devendra Fadnavis’ recognition as one of the most effective Chief Ministers in India.
For Aditya Thackeray, Shiv Sena’s CM ‘face’ the path to CM’s chair is certainly very step given his sheer inexperience considering the important responsibility being the CM of Maharashtra, one of India’s richest states. With the advisors like Sanjay Raut at the helm of party affairs, Shiv Sena’s greed for CM’s position has been further intensified. Raut has been the editor of Sena mouthpiece Saamana and had been a part of Uddhav Thackeray’s inner coterie. Perhaps Raut’s views were not very influential when Bal Thackeray was around, however, today, the Sena stands in a precarious situation post Bal Thackeray’s demise and Sanjay Raut has firmly established himself as the most prominent influencer in the Sena core team.
Amid this tussle over power sharing, the opposition- especially the NCP, has been playing its card very tactically. On one hand Sharad Pawar is saying the people have given them verdict to sit in opposition while on the other his party leaders have made statement that they are ready to support Shiv Sena if they walk out of NDA. While Sharad Pawar, has responded to speculations over the NCP-Congress supporting a Sena-led government, and declared that such decision would have to be a “collective” referring to NCP’s alliance partner the Congress. However Sharad Pawar maintained that general consensus that “all-out efforts should be made to keep the BJP out of power.” exists.
“Sena and BJP had contested the elections jointly. The saffron combine should form the government as the mandate is in their favour. We were unable to secure a clear majority, and we have been given the mandate to sit in the opposition. We will play the role of a constructive opposition.” he said. Raut who met NCP chief a number of times over the past few days had also claimed the Shiv Sena had support of total 170 MLA’s , Sharad Pawar while distancing him from Raut claims said “Raut has been meeting me quite regularly, but so far there has been no proposal from him on government formation, particularly a Shiv Sena-led government.”
Refuting any possibility of NCP forming the government with support of non-BJP parties, Pawar said that as of now, there was no possibility as NCP did not have the required numbers. “In a house of 288, we require 144 for formation of government. With just 54 legislators, it will not be wise to stake claim to form the government. But we will wait till the end, I do not know what will happen tomorrow,” he added. Nonetheless the complex political situation in Maharashtra is still open for all outcomes including President’s rule if no government is formed.
While for the Congress the political options look meek, NCP certainly has identified several opportunities in between this political logjam. With its 54 seats in the state assembly, NCP certainly holds important cards which can make or break any possible future governments. Even if SS and NCP come together, they would still need the outside support of the INC(44) to form the government. For BJP on the other hand chances of coming together with the NCP, directly or indirectly , are surely weak, nonetheless , interesting situations can arise if BJP takes on the challenge to prove its majority on the floor of the house.
While for BJP similar attempt to prove majority on the floor of the house had backfired in the case of Karnataka in 2018, this time around the conditions are certainly different with reports of large numbers of independent and opposition MLA’s pledging their support to the BJP surfacing. In a scenario where BJP being the single largest party forms the government it can certainly prove its majority in the House if requisite quorum is present. Nonetheless it remains to be seen how the political stalemate in Maharashtra unfolds with many claiming their stake at the top post.