MUMBAI: Ten days after the election results came out, Maharashtra has lapsed into a severe political crisis with the two pre-poll alliance partners -- the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena -- squabbling despite having a clear majority, and the Opposition parties quietly waiting for the kill.
The situation has particularly become grim with the normal tenure of the assembly scheduled to expire on November 8, with no provisions for any extension as per the Constitution, according to experts.
At this critical juncture, Governor BS Koshyari was expected to play a key role in exploring the possibility for a stable government for the state in accordance with Constitutional provisions and in tune with the public mandate.
For starters, as per established norms, the Governor could have summoned a brief special session of the state assembly where a Pro-Tem Speaker could have completed the swearing-in ceremony of all the newly-elected legislators.
The next step would have been to invite the single largest elected party/group to form their government, failing which the Governor could have invited all parties separately to explore the possibility of giving a new stable regime in the state.
Only after these efforts would have failed, he could have submitted a report to the President of India and recommended President's Rule in the state with the newly-elected assembly kept in a state of suspended animation till a viable government was formed.
In the absence of these measures, the state now has a few likely scenarios which could evolve over the next few days:
* The BJP could stake its claim to form a minority government -- as it did in 2014 with the hesitant support of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) -- and hope to get a majority on the floor of the House, but with a serious question mark on its long-term survival.
* The Shiv Sena can stake its claim to form a government with the outside support of opposition parties, smaller outfits and independents and hope to sail through the confidence vote in the House, though its long-term stability would be in doubt.
* The Shiv Sena could form the government in alliance with the NCP with the Congress offering outside support without compromising on its known political differences vis-a-vis the Sena; a promising scenario with a relatively long-term stability.
If all these efforts don't fructify, the state is bound to lapse into a spell of President's Rule after the tenure of the current assembly expires on Friday.
As per present indications, the scenario No. 3 is a potentially emerging development, considering the high-level hectic political activities noticed in the past two days in the Sena, NCP and Congress.
At the top of their minds is the upcoming crucial bi-annual election for nine MLC seats and nomination of 12 MLCs -- on the advice of the new government by the Governor to the Upper House -- around April 2020.
Barely three months later, around July, there are scheduled bi-annual elections for seven seats to the Rajya Sabha from the state, in which one of the contenders will be Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar himself.
Pawar dropped some hints when he mentioned in New Delhi this evening that the "people's mandate had gone against the BJP, but in the same breath claimed that there was no talk with the Sena leadership on government formation.
All this would have far-reaching consequences on the Legislative Council arithmetic right till 2026 and have serious bearing on the majority enjoyed by the Congress-NCP there, said experts.