Pawar ties up a coalition of unlikely allies: Sena to lead, Cong-NCP to support
GN Bureau | November 22, 2019
The conundrum in Maharashtra is moving towards resolution, as the Shiv Sena has secured the support of the ideological opponents, the Congress and the NCP, to form the government, after the BJP, the party with the most seats, failed to muster the numbers.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar has taken the lead in joining dots and there have been a series of meetings among the top leaderships of the three parties, in Delhi and Mumbai. On Thursday, finally, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and his son, Aaditya Thackeray, drove down to Pawar’s home in south Mumbai for parleys.
Pawar has managed to bring his ally, the Congress, on the same page, with Sonia Gandhi acquiescing to the power-sharing formula: the Sena will lead the government and the other two parties will support and join it.
The unlikely series of events started after the October 21 assembly elections, which were fought by the BJP and the Sena in alliance, with the Congress-NCP forming the rival alliance. The NDA constituents did manage to cross the majority mark in the 288-member assembly but difference cropped up within allies over power sharing.
The BJP could not repeat its dramatic victory of 2014 and won only 105 seats. Though the Sena too saw a fall in its numbers, it demanded more share in power, preferably the chief ministership in rotation. The regional party felt that it had played second fiddle to its ideological partner for long and it was high time the state had a Shiv Sainik as chief minister.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari went by the book, and invited the largest party to form the government, which the BJP failed to do. Next, he invited the Sena, which hoped to secure the necessary numbers from the other two, but it ran out of time and could not secure letters of support by the deadline set by the governor. The governor then invited the third largest party, NCP, which too failed to get the numbers within time. The governor was then left with little option but to recommend the president’s rule.
Meanwhile, the three parties continued to explore options and this week arrived at an understanding. The Sena is expected to stake the claim before the governor soon.
The development rewrites decades-old political equation in this large state, as the BJP’s oldest and ideologically closest ally has severed the ties. The ‘secular’ Congress-NCP too are crossing the Rubicon, joining hands with a right-leaning party.
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