5:54 am - Sunday September 23, 2018

What next? Can Fadnavis lead minority govt survive for 5 years with some help from NCP?

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Although chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ minority government passed its first test on the floor of the state Assembly through a controversial voice vote, the question on everyone’s mind is whether the BJP will be able to hold on to its seat for the next five years.

Political analysts and sources within the party admit that the current scenario, where the NCPfs support is “issue-based”, cannot last for the entire tenure.

With former ally Shiv Sena now positioned as the main Opposition party, the fate of the saffron alliance in the country’s richest civic corporation, Mumbai, and the Sena’s role in the NDA government are uncertain.

“It’s obvious that the Delhi leadership has a plan, otherwise we wouldn’t have taken such a huge risk. We are not fools to depend on the NCP. In the next six months, we will get several other legislators on board. It will not be difficult to get them elected on our party ticket,” said a senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity.

He, however, said the rapprochement with Sena was still not a closed chapter. A section within the state BJP, including CM Fadnavis, want to join hands with the Sena instead of the NCP. A group within the Sena – including some of Uddhav Thackeray’s close aides – are also hopeful of becoming part of the government.

Analysts, however, feel that Operation Lotus – breaking legislators from other parties and getting them re-elected on BJP symbol – as it had been dubbed in Karnataka, may not work in Maharashtra. 

“In Maharashtra, there are five parties in the fray. Itfs not going to be easy to get 10 legislators re-elected. Logically, a mid-term election after one year is a strong possibility. Accepting the NCP as an ally will hit the BJP and PM Narendra Modi’s image,” said Prakash Bal, a political analyst.

But, at present, the BJP has little choice but to accept the NCP’s support. Sharad Pawar’s party with its 41 legislators will play an important role in getting important legislations such as the right to services bill, finance bills, Lokayukta amendment cleared in the state legislature in the next few sessions.

The NCP’s role will be more important in the Legislative Council with its 28 MLCs, where BJP (11 MLCs) cannot clear bills on its own strength. Many things now depend on the Sena. If Thackeray takes a confrontational stance and ensures the Opposition has an edge, BJP’s troubles will increase.

“If Thackeray continues to be indecisive, then Sena will be led down the garden path by the BJP. But if the BJP has to be forced to prove its numbers, then Uddhav will have to get aggressive,” said Bal.

The suspension of five Congress legislators for the next two years will also benefit the BJP, as it has brought down the numbers it needs for the next no confidence motion from 145 to 140.

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