MUMBAI: The person left holding the bag after the horse has bolted is Devendra Fadnavis, who finally resigned as chief minister.
He was promised the moon by his deputy Ajit Pawar, who failed to deliver and quit.Ajit is said to have promised the support of at least 35 NCP MLAs when he made the midnight deal to enter into a coalition with the BJP. But his uncle Sharad Pawar marshalled his forces better.
In the end, Ajit was no match for the NCP patriarch’s skills.
Ajit was banking on the technicality of using his whip as the legislative party leader to the muster the numbers but it became useless when the Supreme Court ruled that the pro-tem speaker — and not the Speaker — will conduct the floor test.
Whips don’t work when a pro-tem speaker is officiating.
So, what will happen to Ajit now? Though he has been promised a respectable rehabilitation, he is unlikely to make it to the first Aghadi cabinet. He is also not likely to be made the state NCP chief, said sources within the party.
Ajit is known for tantrums. In September this year, just ahead of the Assembly elections, he had suddenly resigned as MLA and went incommunicado for around a day when he was being targeted over the MSC bank scam.
In 2014, he had withdrawn support to the Prithviraj Chavan government after seat-sharing talks with the Congress failed.
In 2011, too, he had quit as deputy chief minister after differences with Sharad Pawar.
A few months later, he was rehabilitated. Something similar could happen to him this time around as well, said party sources. For now, Ajit is most likely to face a forced sanyas.
As for Fadnavis, he has a good command over administration and has good understanding of various issues ranging from industries to agriculture. This had led to speculation long ago of his being shifted to the Centre, since it is starved of talent. However, the volatile situation in Maharashtra had compelled the party leadership to keep him in the state.
With the situation now changing, would he absorbed at the Centre? According to a senior party leader in the state, the new three-party government is unlikely to be stable. So, there is little likelihood of Fadnavis being shifted to Centre in the near term.
For Shah, it’s all part of the game
The BJP may have lost face in the game of thrones in Maharashtra but the top leadership tried hard not to let the Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena steal their thunder, party sources said.
“The BJP chief takes politics as a game and he doesn’t like being a bystander. He relentlessly pursues political possibilities to push the limits for the BJP. The BJP being the largest party in the state was within its rights to explore alternative alliances,” said sources
‘Won’t be vindictive’
Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil proposed Uddhav’s name as the next chief minister. State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat seconded it. “My government will not work in a vindictive way,” said Uddhav