As Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray moves to Matoshree bungalow and three more Shiv Sena MLAs join Eknath Shinde camp in Guwahati, two questions primarily seem to inch closer to a definite answer. Will the BJP form the government in Maharashtra? And what are the choices before Uddhav Thackeray now? A signed letter from 34 MLAs has already been dispatched to the Governor late Wednesday afternoon, proclaiming Eknath Shinde as their leader.
A little recap
Thackerays have been an inextricable part of the political landscape of Maharashtra. Balasaheb Thackeray never contested elections, let alone hold a government post. Uddhav Thackeray took over after the death of his father and Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray. A reluctant politician and a chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray in his words, never dreamt of becoming a chief minister, but nevertheless, he took the plunge in 2019. At the time too, he faced a bumpy road ahead, comprising tough negotiations of a coalition, then the pandemic and currently, the political upheaval.
What the numbers say?
With three more MLAs joining hands with Eknath Shinde's rebel camp in Guwahati, at least 37 Sena legislators are with him now. That's a significant ratio of 2/3rds of the party's strength in the legislature. The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, after the death of Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke, and arrest of Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik, came down to 285 members. A number that makes the majority mark at a neat 143. MVA alliance, comprising Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP, currently has 55 Shiv Sena MLAs, 53 NCP MLAs and 44 Congress MLAs, making a total of 152 MLAs. However, with the sudden political developments, the situation has changed dramatically.
Uddhav Thackeray and his options
Technically speaking, he has exhausted his first option of bringing the rebel MLAs back into the fold. In what has been seen as a major step back, Uddhav Thackeray has said they are ready to walk quit anytime. "We are ready to walk out of MVA government in Maharashtra, but party rebels should return to Mumbai in 24 hours," said Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena's chief spokesperson.
Next political possibility
Eknath Shinde, camping in Guwahati, with ever increasing and changing number of MLAs since Monday, has demanded that Sena breaks its alliance with Congress and NCP and form an ally with BJP. The BJP, on the other hand, has called the Maharashtra political crisis as its internal matter. While addressing media, Union Minister Raosaheb Patil Danve, said, "We haven't spoken to Eknath Shinde. This is Shiv Sena's internal matter. BJP has nothing to do with this. We're not staking claim to form the government."
In the eighteen-minute speech, made on Wednesday evening, Thackeray said, "We have seen several challenges when we were not in power. What's the worst thing that could happen out of this turmoil? We are going to fight. Till the common Shiv Sainik is with me, I am ready for any challenge."
The options before Eknath Shinde
At the moment, given how the tables have turned, the options before Uddhav Thackeray are dependent on what are the options that Eknath Shinde has. For starters, he can take a U-turn, patch up with Thackeray and become the CM of Maharashtra. Wil the allies support this, however, is not known yet. Secondly, as political circles have been predicting, Shinde can ally with the BJP and accept deputy CM's post. Thirdly, he can form his own government and have BJP support it from outside.