MAHA CRISIS …Amid uncertainties, governor gives first call to BJP to explore formation of govt in crisis-hit Maharashtra

MUMBAI: Amid a fluid political situation, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited outgoing chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday to form the government in Maharashtra. The call was sent on the basis of the BJP being the single largest party in the new assembly, where three other parties – the NCP, the Shiv Sena and the Congress—have just about half the size each of the BJP. Fadnavis, if he forms government, will have to prove his majority before 8pm on Monday night.
The present tenure of the 13th assembly, with its 288 members, was set to end at midnight Saturday, and the call came at the eleventh hour, as utter confusion prevailed in political circles over the way forward for the past few weeks. The October 21 polls threw up a hung assembly. Worsening the scenario, the Shiv Sena which fought the polls alongside its long-time ally, the BJP, insisted on sharing the CM post for half the term. This was not acceptable to the BJP. 
The Sena also wants its new-age family prop, Aditya Thackeray who won the Worli seat here, to be made deputy CM or even CM. BJP with 105 seats and Shiv Sena with 56 seats in the new assembly are thus at loggerheads after the polls they fought together. The two parties shared governance of the state for the past five years with Fadnavis at its head.
Amid high-voltage drama, the NCP and the Congress had said they would not want to side with the Sena to form a government. NCP leader Sharad Pawar took the stand that the mandate for his party was to sit in the Opposition. Sonia Gandhi said the Shiv Sena with its chauvinistic policies cannot be an ally to the Congress. This poured cold water on the hopes of the Sena to form a government with support from the NCP and the Congress.
The BJP central leadership is in no mood to budge to the pressure from the Shiv Sena. Amid fears of horse-trading, the Congress party has shifted its MLAs to Rajasthan, where the Congress runs government, to put them under tight vigil and ensure there is no likelihood of some legislators splitting the party and backing the BJP. What cards BJP chief Amit Shah has up his sleeves is what political observers in the state are now looking at.
In the entire political drama, Devendra Fadnavis emerged as a weakling, though he held governance in a firm manner for the past five years. On his own, he is not able to muster enough of numbers for the BJP to form the government. He looks up to central leadership for support.
The failure of the BJP to win a majority on its own in the state assembly this time meant Fadnavis is in no position to maintain his stature even within the party. The young politician from Nagpur is now banking on the support he enjoys from the RSS to see him and the BJP through the present difficult times in the state. It was rarely that a Brahmin held the CM post in Maharashtra politics in recent decades, the exceptions being Fadnavis this last time, and Manohar Joshi of the Sena – who was CM from 1995 to 1999.
Another top Brahmin politician from Nagpur, Union roads minister Nitin Gadkari, who is also in the good books of the RSS, was in Mumbai in the past two days, triggering speculation he would mediate between the Sena and the BJP leaderships. It looks like, he did not. Gadkari has good personal relations with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. It appears BJP chief Amit Shah has some other game up his sleeves. Gadkari rejected suggestions that he might like to be CM of Maharashtra. Formerly, he worked for a period as the state’s irrigation minister.–IHN-NN

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