Floor Test Abhi Baaki Hai, Mere Dost: Game Still On in Maharashtra
Is the battle for Maharashtra finally over, given that BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis has sworn in as Chief Minister and NCP’s Ajit Pawar as Deputy CM?
Not at all. If anything, this battle is far from being done and dusted. Here’s why.
Remember, the BJP won 105 seats in the recently concluded assembly elections in October, which means their own tally is 40 away from the majority mark.
The BJP now has the support of Sharad Pawar’s nephew and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar, but how many of the 53 other NCP MLAs will be willing to back Ajit?
The Pawar Family Feud
Addressing a joint press conference with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar reiterated what he had tweeted earlier on Saturday morning - that Ajit’s move to join hands with the BJP was a “personal decision” and not one of the party.
The joint presser also reaffirmed that the Sena-NCP-Congress combine is still intact. Sharad Pawar will now try to ensure that Fadnavis and co. do not manage to reach the 145-mark with MLAs from the NCP fold, which brings us to the topic of defections and disqualification.
The Defection Numbers Game
Here is the numbers game for Ajit Pawar.
If Ajit has 36 NCP MLAs or more on his side (including himself), he can make a merger with the BJP and avert the anti-defection law entirely.
However, if Ajit has less than 36 NCP MLAs on his side, any attempt by these MLAs to jump ship will face action under the anti-defection law, like the one we’ve seen in Karnataka over the past few months.
Ajit May Have the Signatures, and Yet Not Have the MLAs
Sharad Pawar said that Ajit Pawar might have submitted the list of signatures of the party’s MLAs to the Governor.
According to Sharad, Ajit had the list of signatures because he is the leader of the NCP’s Legislature Party. But the party supremo went on to emphasize that the MLAs’ loyalty lay with the party and not with Ajit.
Pawar senior also alleged that the NCP MLAs who went along with Ajit to Raj Bhavan on Saturday morning had been kept in the dark about the agenda of the visit.
Not only is the NCP planning to take disciplinary action against Ajit Pawar, the party is also working to elect a new legislative party leader by Saturday evening.