Maharashtra Potboiler

Government formation in Maharashtra is playing out like a Bollywood potboiler. Just when the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena were due to come together to form a government, Governor swore in the BJP into power after the party claimed the support of the NCP MLAs, giving it the majority in the Assembly. And it appeared to be true when the BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis took oath as the Maharashtra Chief Minister with the NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who was made Deputy Chief Minister. But soon it has turned out that this is not the case after all. Almost all the NCP MLAs except Ajit Pawar and a few others have returned to the party’s leader Sharad Pawar. Similarly, Shiv Sena MLAs have also pledged support to their leader Uddhav Thackeray. The new BJP government in the state has to prove its majority on November 30, giving it five more days to get the required number of MLAs 0n its side. And as things stand, the party will find it difficult to pull together a majority. But considering the way the BJP has ensured power for itself in state after state, it doesn’t look improbable for the party.

The case is now in Supreme Court. The Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena want the court to prepone the floor test so that the BJP is not allowed to engage in horse trading. The parties have gathered their MLAs and put them at hotels so as not to allow the BJP any access to them.

In the run up to polls, Congress and Sharad Pawar headed NCP had forged an alliance to take on the powerful BJP-Shiv Sena combine. But even before the campaigning for the polls went ahead, Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar became the target of a probe for their alleged involvement in Rs 25000 crore bank scam. The situation took a dramatic twist when after polls the BJP and Shiv Sena which between them enjoyed a majority fell out over the latter’s demand for a 50:50 partnership in the new government. Shiv Sena also sought a rotational chief ministership between the parties which the BJP rejected. It is then Shiv Sena looked for an alternative arrangement with Congress and the NCP.

It is difficult to predict how the drama will end. But the developments in Maharashtra are showing the democracy in the country in a bad light. The unedifying race to outdo one another in the race to power using all means possible is turning the idea of democracy on its head. But more than the opposition it is incumbent on the ruling BJP to ensure it is not done. It has to take the lead in showing that the democratic ethics and norms are respected.

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