While all eyes would be on what the Supreme Court says on Monday, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Sunday said they were making efforts to garner support of as many legislators as possible to sail through the floor test. The Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) continued to guard against the poaching of their respective legislators.
At the centre of the drama remained the internal Pawar family feud, on which would largely hinge the survival of the Devendra Fadnavis government as and when the Supreme Court orders a floor test.
The BJP has at least two to three days, if not more, as the pro tem Speaker would need time to administer the oath to each of the 288 newly elected MLAs, subsequent to which the Speaker would be elected who would then conduct the floor test.
There is also the question of whether the new Speaker would recognise Ajit Pawar as the chief of the NCP legislature party, even though party chief Sharad Pawar has said his nephew no longer enjoys that position. NCP’s Nawab Malik said 50 of its 54 MLAs are with Sharad Pawar. But Ajit Pawar, if the speaker treats him as the legislature party chief, would have the power to issue the whip.
On Sunday evening, Ajit Pawar, sworn in the deputy chief minister on Saturday, was keen to be seen to be part of the NCP. He tweeted that he was still in the NCP and “shall always be in the NCP” and Sharad Pawar is his leader. “Our BJP-NCP alliance shall provide a stable government in Maharashtra for the next five years which will work sincerely for the welfare of the state and its people. There is absolutely no need to worry, all is well. However, a little patience is required. Thank you very much for all your support,” Ajit Pawar tweeted.
Sharad Pawar countered it by tweeting that there was “no question of forming an alliance with the BJP. The NCP has unanimously decided to ally with Shiv Sena and Congress to form the government. Ajit Pawar’s statement is false and misleading in order to create confusion and false perception among the people,” Sharad Pawar said.