MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine will defeat the new BJP-led government in Maharashtra during the Assembly Speaker's election, the NCP said on Saturday night, indicating that most of its MLAs were intact, hours after senior leader Ajit Pawar joined hands with the BJP and took oath as deputy of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
In the 288-member Legislative Assembly, the BJP government will have to prove that it has the backing of 145 legislators, NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik on Saturday night told reporters that the government has been given time till November 30 to prove its numbers.
"The government has been given time till November 30. We will defeat them in the Speaker's election itself. We are sure the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP will form the government," Malik said.
He made the remarks after emerging from a meeting of NCP MLAs in Mumbai.
Accounting for the party MLAs, he said five of the total 54 MLAs were not in touch with the party while six others were on their way to Mumbai.
"Remaining (43) MLAs have already reached (Mumbai). All our MLAs will stay at a hotel in Mumbai," he added.
After the meeting, the NCP MLAs were taken to a hotel in suburban Powai.
Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were sworn in a hush hush ceremony at Raj Bhavan by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at 8 am after dramatic midnight developments, leading to the lifting of the 12-day President's rule in Maharashtra.
Ajit's political shocker came at a time when the Sena, the Congress and the NCP had almost finalised formation of a coalition government under Sena president Uddhav Thackeray as the chief minister.
Later in the night, the NCP sacked Ajit Pawar as its legislature party head, saying his move was not in line with the party's policies.
Earlier, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said the Congress, the NCP and the Sena, along with independents and smaller parties, have the support of 169 to 170 MLAs, and they were ready to form the government.
Malik said the list of NCP MLAs submitted by Ajit Pawar to the governor before taking oath was actually a letter signed by the party MLAs when they attended a meeting earlier.
Some of the MLAs, who were present with Ajit Pawar during the oath-taking ceremony, later pledged their loyalty to Sharad Pawar.
The number of legislators, if any, backing Ajit remains a mystery.
In the 288-member House, the BJP has 105 MLAs, the Shiv Sena 56, the NCP 54 and the Congress 44.