In overnight twist, Devendra Fadnavis takes oath as Maharashtra CM
Anything is possible in politics in India. That is what the high-voltage late night-early morning political drama in Maharashtra has just proved. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray went to bed at the sprawling Matoshree in Mumbai on Friday dreaming of becoming the CM the next day only to wake up with a nightmare finding his dream shattered by none other than his arch-rival Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP.
While the Shiv Sena and Congress had a good night’s sleep, the BJP and Ajit Pawar of NCP were at work to give a surprise government in Maharashtra early in the morning. When NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Congress working president Sonia Gandhi and Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray woke up, they were shell-shocked to find Fadnavis in the CM chair.
Sources say a prominent Mumbai-based industrialist played a major role in spotting the weakest link in the NCP and got Sharad Pawar’s upset nephew Ajit Pawar to the BJP’s side.
The deal was also swung by BJP national president Amit Shah’s trusted lieutenant Bhupender Yadav, who is the party general secretary and in-charge of elections in Maharashtra.
While the Sena, Congress and NCP involved in closed-door meetings, they never noticed the BJP eves-dropping on them. There were clever, cunning, hectic and discreet negotiations between the BJP’s top leadership and NCP’s Ajit Pawar over the past few days. What happened in Maharashtra today was in the making for a few days. The PSU (Pawar-Sonia-Uddhav) just got ‘disinvested’ in a clever coup.
One lesson political parties should realize is that there is no night in politics. The BJP just proved that politics is a day-night game.
So what next:
Fadnavis has to prove his majority by Nov 30.
Ajit Pawar may split the NCP. He has to get 28 MLAs on his side to form a new party and avoid disqualification.
Ajit Pawar may have decided to leave his uncle for two reasons: he was not willing to work under a Shiv Sena CM; secondly, he faces a Rs 35,000 crore irrigation scam and by sailing with the BJP, the case may be silenced.
Sharad Pawar will give a tough fight as the party and family face a split.
Shiv Sena faces a big loss of face and may not take things lying down. But the BJP may poach on Sena MLAs who were upset with the alliance with the Congress.
Congress is only a poor third player and has lost the game.
Much of the mess in the Sena was due to the vituperative language used by the party’s spokesperson Sanjay Raut against the BJP and the willingness to give up the Hindutva plank.
The NCP is to meet at 4.30 pm today. This will be crucial and this will decide who has the majority.
But in the whole game, one big mystery is whether Sharad Pawar was aware of the moves.
Eyebrows were also raised when Sharad Pawar had a 40-minute long meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week followed by Modi praising Pawar ahead of the Parliament session.