Mumbai: Now that it is almost clear that the BJP and the Shiv Sena cannot form the government, the Congress and the NCP have started fine-tuning their strategies.
Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan was instructed by the High Command to meet Sharad Pawar. The non-BJP formulation was expected to stake claim by midnight but stopped in its tracks after the announcement that the Ayodhya verdict will be out on Saturday.
While outgoing CM Devendra Fadnavis tendered his resignation on Friday, he refrained from staking claim as representative of the single largest party.
Since the term of the Assembly is expiring, the Governor is obliged to call the single-largest party or the single largest pre-poll alliance to form the government in the next two days.
Though there is no time limit fixed for a caretaker government, it can at best be at helm for 5 to 10 days, said constitutional expert and former Secretary General of Lok Sabha Subhash Kashyap. It should pave the way for the alternative arrangement at the earliest.
When attention was drawn to the fact that the Governor has not invited anybody for the last fortnight, Kashyap said that the Governor ought to have done so by now.
If the single largest party or alliance declines the invite or fails to prove its majority in the house, then the Governor should call the second largest party, the constitutional expert added. After exhausting all options, the Governor can recommend President’s rule in the State.
But the Governor should keep in mind that Raj Bhavan is not the place where majority is to be showcased. For that, the best place is the floor of the house.
Winds of change
The thrust of the Sena insistence since October 24, the day of the results, has been, implement the 50:50 power sharing formula and a firm ‘no’ to Fadnavis as the next chief minister.
Fadnavis has bitten more than he can chew, which was borne out by the video that went viral. In it, he is seen speaking to journalists on the microphone and saying that if his government is re-elected, then the BJP and the Sena will equitably share responsibilities and posts.
After his public slamming of the Sena, Fadnavis was dubbed a liar by Uddhav; what a climb down for a man known to be principled.
The fact is Fadnavis made far too many claims prior to the Assembly election. He claimed BJP will cross the 220 milestone. But Sena has exposed how the BJP fooled them into accepting 124 seats.
Fadnavis also forced the smaller regional parties to contest on the Lotus symbol, thereby contesting on all the 228 seats, which again was a betrayal of the coalition dharma.
This is not the first time the BJP rode roughshod over the Sena. In 2014, the party gave only the heavy industries ministry to the Sena at the Centre which they repeated this time too.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray watched the moves, waiting for the right time to strike back. It is not as if the Sena was charitable towards the BJP; the party was attacked on issues but Sena leaders desisted from personally attacking any of their leaders.
The final nail in the coffin was the recourse to vindictive politics by appointing only BJP cronies to all political institutions. The BJP also began hounding its rivals.
In one such flourish, the Enforcement Directorate on September 24, said, they will send a notice to NCP chief Sharad Pawar in the Maharashtra Cooperative bank scam.
Fadnavis saw this as a fine opportunity to speak against the Maratha leader, whom he has targeted even before and about whom he has made personal remarks.
The sympathy, not just in Maharashtra, but across the country, went in Pawar’s favour. For once, the BJP forgot the word ‘loyalty’, something that Sena did not. Many believe the change of guard will now herald the winds of change in the state.