After the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance raised a hue and cry about the BJP’s midnight play for Maharashtra’s government on Saturday, the Supreme Court ordered a floor test to be held on Wednesday, 27 November.
However, even as both sides, BJP-Ajit Pawar and the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance claimed to have larger numbers than the other, NCP-defector-turned-BJP ally, Ajit Pawar, has announced his resignation as Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister.
Soon after this news, Devendra Fadnavis, who was sworn in as chief minister in an early morning ceremony at the Governor’s residence around 7 am on 23 November, Saturday, has also announced his resignation.
Seeming to throw in the hat, Fadnavis added the BJP will serve as Opposition.
After all this drama – including parties hiding away their MLAs in hotels across Mumbai and even parts of Rajasthan to prevent them from selling out – the question still remains: who will form the government in Maharashtra? Will the unlikely (and many predict, unstable) alliance of Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance get its day in the sun?
So, what happened in Maharashtra?
The BJP’s midnight manoeuvring to form the government in Maharashtra has sparked political turmoil in the state, a dramatic change from the stagnant deadlock Maharashtra had been in since the Assembly election results left it without a government.
At 5:47am on Saturday, President’s Rule was revoked in Maharashtra, following which BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as chief minister for a second time, with Ajit Pawar as his deputy.
Even as this news broke on the internet, newspapers across the country were being delivered to houses with front pages declaring Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray would be Maharashtra’s next chief minister as part of a Shiv-Sena-NCP-Congress alliance.
As people speculated about the inner workings of the NCP, wondering if Ajit Pawar had revolted against party leader and his uncle, Sharad Pawar or if this had all been secretly orchestrated by the senior Pawar himself, Sharad Pawar and daughter Supriya Sule put the rumours to rest by declaring that Ajit had acted of his own accord.
By mid-day, the tense trio of Sharad Pawar, Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray held a press conference, with a few “rebel” NCP MLAs standing behind them, and slammed the BJP’s late night coup.
Pawar Senior reiterated what he had already tweeted, saying he did not know of Ajit Pawar’s plans and it was not done with his assent. He added that Ajit Pawar only had the support of ten to 11 NCP MLAs, adding that they’d be subject to anti-defection laws.
Two NCP MLAs, who had attended Devendra Fadnavis’ early morning swearing-in ceremony, explained to reporters that they did not know what they were participating in until it was too late. They said they’d simply obeyed orders to go to the Governor’s residence early on Saturday morning and didn’t know they had been called there to validate Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar’s swearing in.
The two declared their fealty to Sharad Pawar and said they’d rushed to tell him what had happened at the governor’s residence soon as they realised it.
Anti-Ajit Pawar sentiments also rose in the NCP with PTI reporting that party workers were seen throwing shoes at his portrait in Thane.
And Ajit Pawar was sacked as the NCP legislature group leader later on the same day.
The BJP, for its part, declared that it had the “electoral and moral” mandate to form a government in Maharashtra, PTI reported.
It dismissed concerns about its previous criticism of Ajit Pawar as “corrupt”, simply saying that the “given situation” called for a stable government.
That hasn’t stopped Twitter from unearthing an old video of Fadnavis on a stage, declaring that Ajit Pawar would spend his days “chakki pissing, pissing, pissing” in jail.
As both sides continued to exchange barbs via press conferences, “sources” and Twitter, they also started playing a ridiculous game of hide-and-seek with NCP MLAs.
By the end of the day, seven NCP MLAs who had defected to the BJP had defected back to Sharad Pawar’s camp.
Meanwhile, there were reports of nine defector NCP MLAs being flown to New Delhi in a private jet, eventually turned into four of them returning to Sharad Pawar, TheWire reported.
The drama continued on Sunday and Monday as the Congress hid away its MLAs in Rajasthan and the Shiv Sena and NCP’s hunted members took over various hotels in Mumbai. Clearly, the unlikely trio was determined to not let the BJP pull off what it had already perfected in Karnataka and Goa earlier.
The trio paraded all its MLAs at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai on Monday night where they took pledge of allegiance and Sharad Pawar warned that he would not let the BJP repeat the Manipur and Goa pattern in Maharashtra.
On Tuesday, it remained entirely unclear which Pawar was going to walk away with the numbers to form a government.
Now, mere hours after the Supreme Court denied the BJP-Ajit Pawar faction extra time till 15 December to prove its numbers, both the midnight plotters, Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar have resigned.
The floor test is tomorrow, 27 November.