Amidst reports that Shiv Sena is planning to keep its MLAs together in a resort or hotel in or around Mumbai, BJP leaders are scheduled to call on the Governor, B.S. Koshiyari, on Thursday. Will it stake its claim to form the government as the single largest party and seek time to prove its majority on the floor of the House?
The failure of the BJP to form the government even two weeks after the results were declared, has made it look both weak and fractious. And if it fails to stake its claim on Thursday, it would signal more trouble for the party and its alliance with the Shiv Sena.
Signals emanating from Mumbai suggest that Uddhav Thackeray, the Shiv Sena chief, is in no mood to accept Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister again. He has refused to even speak to Fadnavis or meet his emissaries, insisting that he would speak only to BJP’s top brass. But neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor Amit Shah have taken the initiative, claim reports.
While BJP does have a problem in replacing Fadnavis in the absence of a credible second rung leader, reports also suggest that Nitin Gadkari, snubbed and marginalised in New Delhi by the BJP, is reluctant to step in and bell the cat. His supporters claim that it would be a thankless task and he could expect little cooperation from the Centre.
But BJP can hardly afford to abandon one of the richest states in the country and Gadkari, who enjoys cordial relations with both the RSS as well as corporate honchos in Mumbai, is clearly the front-runner at this point.
With the term of the current Assembly expiring on Saturday, these are the following scenarios that have emerged on Thursday morning:
· BJP stakes claim, seeks time to prove its majority and then bargains with the Shiv Sena or tries to split other parties. It is 40 short of the halfway mark in the Assembly and could loosen its purse strings to lure MLAs to its side. The stakes are high and if the claim of a disgruntled and disqualified former MLA in Karnataka is to be believed, each MLA could command a ‘price’ of over a thousand Crore Rupees, ostensibly offered to the MLA in Karnataka.
· If the stalemate does not end and BJP does not stake its claim, the Assembly can be placed under suspended animation and the state placed under President’s Rule.
· If the BJP fails to stake its claim, the Shiv Sena can then offer to form the government with letters of support from the NCP ( 54 MLAs) and the INC (44 MLAs).
· With 56 MLAs of the Shiv Sena, the opposition combine would then have the support of 154 MLAs in the House. They can also claim the support of several of the 20 odd Independents and BJP rebels who won seats in the election.