Waiting game

Print edition : November 22, 2019

FOR over a week after the declaration of results of the Assembly election, there has been no clear indication (at the time of going to press) of who will form the government in Maharashtra.

The State government’s term will expire on November 9, which means that the new government has to take over by November 8. The election results were declared on October 24, giving all parties a fortnight to work out their formulae to form the government. The results showed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had the largest number of seats, at 105, followed by their alliance partner, the Shiv Sena, which has 56 seats. Under normal circumstances, it was a foregone conclusion that the two parties would form the government again. However, the Shiv Sena’s demand for a 50-50 deal put a brake on this.

Complicating the scene was the fact that the opposition, the Nationalist Congress Party-Congress combine, fared better than expected, with 54 and 44 seats respectively. NCP supremo Sharad Pawar was watching which way the wind would blow. The NCP and the Congress were open to supporting, if not allying with, the Shiv Sena from outside, although the Congress would have to get the nod from Sonia Gandhi.

The BJP remained unfazed since it had already said that once the deadlock was resolved Devendra Fadnavis would be Chief Minister again. The BJP offered more plum posts to the Shiv Sena. It even hinted at the possibility of President’s Rule—an empty threat that provoked the publication of an editorial entitled “Insult to Maharashtra. Is the President in your pocket?” in the the Shiv Sena party organ Saamna. The editorial stated: “This threat could be a move to sidestep the norm and do things the way one wants to get them done. It is an insult to the mandate of the people.”

In the 288 seat-strong Assembly, any party with a simple majority of 145 can form the government. The BJP claimed the support of 15 independents, taking its tally up to 120. The Shiv Sena has 56 seats and the support of seven independents.

With the opposition indicating outside support, the Sena was spoilt for choice. But outside support is always a shaky proposition at best, and with Sharad Pawar involved, Uddhav Thackeray would certainly be wary. So once again it seemed that the BJP would be the Sena’s best bet. As of now, it is just a matter of resolving the 50-50 row.

Rumour had it that the BJP had asked for the Wankhede stadium for November 5 for the swearing-in ceremony and was only awaiting permission to use the grounds. It is now a waiting game, with each side bargaining furiously.

 

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