Saturday morning came as a shock to most Maharashtrians when Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was administered the oath by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari along with NCP leader Ajit Pawar. The joining hands of two politicians who were openly at each other's throats during the campaign of the Assembly Elections was unprecedented and completely unexpected.
Ajit Pawar showed support of NCP's 54 MLAs to BJP's 105. However, immediately NCP chief Sharad Pawar refuted his nephew's claim. Ajit Pawar was NCP's legislative party leader at the time of his oath-taking. The party sacked the 60-year-old and appointed Jayant Patil as its leader. The MLAs that went along with Ajit Pawar to Raj Bhavan have also reportedly returned to the fold.
Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress knocked on the Supreme Court's doors, demanding a floor test within 24 hours. The top court has reserved its order till 10:30 am on Tuesday and is likely to announce for the trust vote. On the other hand the Maha Vikas Agadhi comprising of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have staked a claim of government formation with a letter of support from 162 MLAs to the Governor.
But, the way ahead isn't going to be simple for the political parties, it is still an uphill battle.
First, Governor Koshyari will select a Pro-tem Speaker. The Pro-tem Speaker is temporary and usually, the senior-most member of the house is selected for the post. The Pro-tem Speaker will administer the oath to the MLAs. He will also enable the House to elect a new Speaker.
Electing the Speaker of the House will be the first big challenge to the parties. Getting their candidate voted as a Speaker, will be a battle half won. Once the Speaker is elected, the floor test can take place. Devendra Fadnavis has to move a vote of confidence and win a majority among those present and voting. The voting can take place through voice, electronic gadgets or ballot vote. If the confidence motion fails to pass, the chief minister will have to resign.
BJP has claimed support of 170 MLAs. 54 of them are of the NCP. But, as of today Ajit Pawar cannot call the whip as Jayant Patil is the official leader. However, if the NCP MLAs choose to remain absent, the strength of the house falls to 234 which brings the halfway mark to 118. And, with the 15-20 independents supporting Fadnavis, as BJP claims, their government will win the floor test.
However, it all depends on the loyalty of NCP MLAs. In case they choose to remain faithful to Sharad Pawar and back the Maha Vikas Aghadi, Uddhav Thackeray will topple Fadnavis in the game of thrones.