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Maharashtra Tragicomedy: Shiv Sena digs itself a hole and jumps right in, state possibly headed towards President Rule

However, without any major turn of events, which is still possible, Maharashtra appears to be headed towards President rule, following which the state will go to polls again

A tragicomedy has ensued in Maharashtra. Political developments are taking place at a breathtaking place in the state. After Shiv Sena failed to show the requisite letters of support to the Governor, the third largest party, Sharad Pawar’s NCP, has been invited to form the government in the state.

The NCP has consistently maintained thus far that the mandate is for them to sit in opposition. If it does manage to cobble up an alliance, it will be a remarkable turn of events from the initial days of the verdict when they had asserted that they will sit in opposition. The NCP will likely receive support from the Congress if it chooses to make an attempt, however, the pre-poll alliance will need support from the Shiv Sena for it to be successful. With 54 and 44 MLAs of NCP and Congress respectively, they are well short of majority, even if they manage to get the support of independents and other parties.

As for the Sena, now it will have to support the NCP’s bid if it wishes to avoid a presidential rule in Maharashtra. But after both NCP and Congress failed to provide letters of support for Shiv Sena, it seems unlikely that now Shiv Sena will support them. Moreover, Sena left the NDA alliance over the demand for CM post, so there is no reason for them to support an NCP led government.

Amidst all of this, it is still not clear which group would have been more upset if the Shiv Sena had succeeded in forming a government without the BJP, Hindutvavadis who voted to keep NCP-Congress out of power or liberals and people from the minority community which voted for NCP-Congress to a remove the saffron alliance from power.

The single biggest loser in this political drama appears to be the Shiv Sena. First, it ditched its traditional alliance partner, the BJP, over a silly demand of having its own Chief Minister despite the fact that the BJP won over a hundred seats while its own tally was in the fifties. After rejecting its pre-poll alliance partner, with whom they have a comfortable majority, the Shiv Sena got rejected by their arch-nemesis as well. NCP has said that Shiv Sena will have to leave the NDA alliance at centre if they want NCP’s support, and accordingly, today Sena had broken away from the alliance, and its union minister Arvind Sawant had announced that he will be resigning from the post. Personally, Sawant will emerge as the biggest loser in this drama, assuming that he does not take back his resignation.

While this drama was playing out, one of its central figures, Sanjay Raut, who had claimed that Shiv Sena will have its Chief Minister ‘at any cost’ is apparently admitted to the hospital. While no one could say for sure how the drama will end, given the number of turns it has taken within the space of an hour, Shiv Sena appears to have overestimated its strength and landed itself in a whole lot of problems.

However, without any major turn of events, which is still possible, Maharashtra appears to be headed towards President rule, following which the state will go to polls again. NCP-Congress does not have the numbers and it appears extremely unlikely that the Shiv Sena will support their bid to form government.

Another distinct possibility still exists. The NCP might be supported by the BJP in its bid to form the government. It might have been unthinkable sometime ago, however, considering the circumstances, it cannot be ruled out. As Shiv Sena demonstrated, the will of the voters doesn’t matter much to political parties when it comes to forming governments and stitching post-poll alliances. At the end of the day, its about survival and self-interests. If the BJP believes it could come to a mutually beneficial agreement with the NCP, then the government will be formed. Otherwise, it’s another series of elections in Maharashtra after a few months.

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