MAHA DRAMA …Pawar holds trump card, being wooed by all == BJP, Sena and Cong in Maha battle

MUMBAI: The political conundrum in Maharashtra is getting curiouser and curiouser, but things are nowhere near a solution when it comes to ministry-making. While the mood on Friday was in favour of a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government, it shifted from this post by Saturday to a state of utter confusion in the proposed three-party alliance itself. The BJP, it would appear, is cool as a cucumber. Beneath the surface, there is both hope and hopelessness.

So much so, a meeting the MLAs of these parties sought with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was postponed at the last hour, before the planned 3pm, as several MLAs informed their leaderships that they were busy with urgent work in their constituencies. This poured cold water on the hopes the alliance was heading closer to the process of ministry formation. NCP leader Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray reportedly held a secret meeting on Saturday to review the scenario. Pawar reportedly suggested that there be no hurry about ministry formation and rather wait for a few more days.

Pawar also sought an appointment with Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in Delhi for Monday. What the two would discuss is unclear, but a basic premise is they would discuss the modalities of formation of a three-party government.
Meanwhile, word spread that the BJP might be in talks with the NCP leadership for formation of a ministry by the two parties, with the total exclusion of the Shiv Sena and of course the Congress as well. Sharad Pawar, thus, weighing the pluses and minuses. 

Reports are that the BJP offered NCP a 50-50 sharing of ministries between the two, but there would be no compromise on the CM post, which the BJP wants retain. This might not necessarily follow that Devendra Fadnavis could be the CM again.

For NCP, it is ready to share power without the CM post, but expects a guarantee that Pawar as also another leader Praful Patel will not be proceeded against in any serious manner in the ED-CBI cases the two are involved in. Reports are that the BJP also offered a cabinet minister post in Delhi to Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule.

Shiv Sena meanwhile alleged that the BJP was trying to do horse-trading, meaning purchase of MLAs from the other partie to create a majority for it in the 288-member state assembly. The BJP has only 105 MLAs and support from some Independents, who are weathercocks anyway. Amit Shah and the BJP, if they are acting, are doing things quietly. The Shiv Sena has 56 MLAs, the NCP 54 and the Congress 44.

Nothing goes to show yet that ex-chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, on his own, is into any high-pitched action. He made declarations repeatedly that he will be chief minister again, but could do little on his own on the political chessboard, unlike CM Manoharlal Khattar in Haryana. In a jiffy, Khattar had robbed victory from the jaws of defeat, and formed the next ministry with help from a new pro-Jat political outfit that performed well in the assembly polls. What Devendra Fadnavis is upto, if he’s into something, is not very clear as of now. –IHN-NN


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