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Faction of Congress might abstain during floor test, fights erupt in Congress and Shiv Sena: Read exclusive details on Maharashtra

BJP is confident of getting over 170 votes during the floor test, indicating that MLAs from NCP (Ajit Pawar faction), dissidents of Shiv Sena, some Independent candidates and BJP together are confident of forming the government after the floor test.

The state of Maharashtra has been in a state of confusion ever since the Assembly Election results were announced. First, Shiv Sena demanded the Chief Minister position for son Aditya Thackeray and broke their alliance with BJP over it. Then, Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP started negotiation over government formation with days of inconclusive talks. Then, one morning, everyone woke up to Devendra Fadnavis of BJP and Ajit Pawar of NCP being sworn in as the Chief Minister and Deputy CM respectively.

Post the swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, the drama has reached an unprecedented level, dare we say, perhaps even more dramatic than the Karnataka fiasco. Congress, NCP (Sharad Pawar) and Shiv Sena have approached the Supreme Court to demand that a floor test be held immediately. Amidst accusations of MLAs being kidnapped, Sharad Pawar, while initially had distanced himself and the party from Ajit Pawar’s decision to ally with BJP, is yet to expel Ajit Pawar from the party rather inexplicably. He has said that this is a decision that has to be one by the party, and not his alone – non-committal at best.

Read: Maharashtra: Sena-Congress-NCP submit a letter to governor staking claim, say they have the numbers

While the entire country is wondering who has the numbers, especially in the NCP camp, some new details that have emerged may throw some light on what has been brewing behind the curtains.

What is brewing in the NCP camp

Sources confirmed to OpIndia that over 27 MLAs are with Ajit Pawar. When one says they are ‘with’ Ajit Pawar, one means that during the floor test, these MLAs are likely to vote in Pawar’s favour while at the moment, by virtue of their physical presence at the meeting with Sharad Pawar, one might assume that these MLAs are with the opposite camp.

Read: Maharashtra confusion: After Ajit Pawar reiterates BJP-NCP alliance, Sharad Pawar says no such thing

In fact, a litany of leaders from NCP has been meeting Ajit Pawar supposedly to “convince him” to reverse his decision. That seems unlikely considering Ajit Pawar tweeted several times yesterday thanking everyone and promising to deliver a stable government to Maharashtra. During the meeting between Chagan Bhujbal and Ajit Pawar, sources confirmed that Bhujbal told Ajit that 30-35 MLAs are “uneasy” without the presence of Ajit in the party.

What is brewing in the Shiv Sena camp

The day before yesterday, late evening on Saturday, according to our sources, a fight broke out between Milind Narvekar and Eknath Shinde. Evidently, Narvekar, who is the Personal Assistant of Uddhav Thackeray, accused Shinde of being in the BJP camp. The fight reached messy proportions with Narvekar and Shinder getting into a verbal spat. According to sources, a chunk of Shiv Sena MLAs is also planning to vote for the alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena.

If one recalls, even earlier, Shiv Sena MLAs were disgruntled with Uddhav Thackeray sacrificing party interests for the Chief Minister’s post either for Aditya Thackeray or himself. After a verbal spat, several MLAs had left the resort they were staying in earlier.

With the fissures in NCP and Shiv Sena, Congress has been wondering if it has sailed on the wrong boat. Congress had summoned Uddhav Thackeray after news of the fight between Narvekar and Shinde. Uddhav first met Sonia Gandhi and tried to convince her that all was well in Shiv Sena and that all the MLAs were with him and the Congress.

Read: Shiv Sena MLAs get into an abusive argument over Uddhav Thackeray’s insistence on CM post: Reports

Post the meeting with Sonia Gandhi, Uddhav Thackeray addressed a meeting of NCP MLAs and tried to convince them that everything was in control.

In fact, interestingly, it is being said that not more than 40 people attended the NCP meeting and many people from the youth wing were also present. In fact, one could see Milind Narvekar in the meeting too, essentially indicating that all MLAs were not present at the meeting as indicated by the Media reports.

What is brewing in the Congress camp

After the fights in Shiv Sena and NCP, the Congress camp has also seen massive infighting over Maharashtra. A massive fight broke up in the Congress camp over the election of CLP leader. On Saturday, when leaders met to choose a CLP leader, a fight broke out between the three top leaders of the party namely Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel. As a result, a CLP leader could not be chosen.

According to sources, MLAs of Congress, especially from the Vidharba side are on edge with the fights in Congress. In fact, after the fissures in all three parties, many MLAs from Congress are also thinking of abstaining when the trust vote takes place.

Read: Maharashtra: Congress clueless on NCP support as the political drama in the state continues

Unconfirmed reports indicate that a section of Congress MLAs wish to abstain and claim the moral high ground. While the Rahul Gandhi faction never wanted to talk to Shiv Sena in the first place, it is the Sonia Gandhi faction led by Ahmed Patel that wanted to fight. Patel wanted to decimate the BJP government, uncaring about whether Congress itself would be able to form the government or not.

According to sources, Ahmed Patel wanted to rule over Mumbai in order to develop an election war kitty. Initially, even Sonia Gandhi was not in favour of talking to Shiv Sena, however, it was after Uddhav Thackeray agreed to give Congress a piece of the pie in corporations is when Patel could convince Sonia Gandhi to speak to Shiv Sena.

Sources say that for Congress, allying with Shiv Sena is a financial decision more than a political decision as if Maharashtra had gone for re-election, Congress and NCP would stand to gain the most. Congress and NCP would fight the elections together while BJP and Shiv Sena would be divided. And hence, Congress’ decision to ally with Shiv Sena makes no political sense per se, unless Congress got into the alliance for financial reasons.

Who has the numbers?

High placed sources have told OpIndia that BJP is confident of passing the floor test. The source has said that BJP is confident of getting over 170 votes during the floor test, indicating that MLAs from NCP (Ajit Pawar faction), dissidents of Shiv Sena, some Independent candidates and BJP together are confident of forming the government after the floor test.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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