Despite the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance getting a majority in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly as per the state election results, the new government here is not able to take shape. Following the results on 24 October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Maharashtra would develop under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis although the BJP and Shiv Sena continue to squabble over a so-called 50-50 formula between them.
The BJP and Shiv Sena fought elections together, but now Shiv Sena is acting pricey. The smaller partner in the NDA is adamant on the two-and-a-half-year formula because Uddhav wants to see his son Aditya Thackeray in the chief minister’s chair. Posters making the demand are all over the streets of Mumbai.
As the Shiv Sena is even threatening the BJP, saying that it has other options, the number of choices for government formation in Maharashtra are but seven. The state Assembly has a total of 288 seats and the majority figure is 145. The BJP has 105 seats, Shiv Sena has 56 seats, NCP has 54 seats and Congress has 44 seats. Small parties have won the remaining 13 seats and independents have secured 12.
7 options for Maharashtra
Let’s grade the options of government formation from the most likely to the least. The first option is that the BJP and Shiv Sena form a government together. Both together have 161 seats, which is 16 seats more than the majority. If the Sena’s demands are conceded, the BJP and Shiv Sena lead the government in turn for two-and-a-half-years each.
The second option is to form a minority government of the BJP, which Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari may invite following the convention of calling the single largest party for government formation in the event of a hung Assembly. If the NCP abstains from voting, the minority government will sail through. Then 118 MLAs will be needed for a majority, which can be met with the help of independents and small parties. This option is striking the BJP the strongest in moments when the bargaining by the Shiv Sena is getting on the nerves of the larger party’s leadership.
The third option is to have the chief minister from the BJP and the deputy chief minister from the Shiv Sena. In the state, 40% of the ministers could belong to the Shiv Sena and the number of Shiv Sena ministers could be increased in the Modi government. This is what the BJP has offered as a compromise formula, sources say.
The fourth option is that the Shiv Sena forms the government with the support of NCP while the Congress abstains from the trust vote. In such a situation, the Shiv Sena and NCP will have 110 seats and they will need the support of independents and small parties.
The fifth option is Sharad Pawar of the NCP becoming the chief minister while supporting a Congress and Shiv Sena government. This possibility cannot be denied, especially when the Shiv Sena has sun paeans to Sharad Pawar.
The sixth option is to give the NCP and Congress external support of the Shiv Sena. The three parties together have 154 seats, which is nine more than the majority. But the Congress may face problems in this.
The seventh option is the BJP and NCP forming a government together, but this is, as of now, just of academic interest as the option is the least likely to be exercised. Both together have 159 seats, which is 14 seats more than the majority. In the art of the possible called politics, the BJP may approach the NCP along the lines of past strategic partnerships between the two parties.
As long as there is suspense about the government in Maharashtra, such options may be discussed. The most stable government will, of course, be formed by exercising the first option, for which both the Shiv Sena and the BJP may have to pull one step back.