Now that the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court has directed that a floor test be conducted in Maharashtra assembly on November 27 soon after completion of oath by members, the two-month-long political crisis in the state will reach a decisive point. The newly-elected MLAs will decide whether the incumbent Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis commands majority or not.
The apex court has directed on Tuesday that there shall be no secret balloting and there shall be a live telecast of the floor test. Earlier, on Monday evening, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress 'aaghadi' (alliance) conducted a 'parade' of 162 MLAs in a Mumbai hotel, in the presence of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray and senior Congress leader Mallikarjuna Khadge. All the MLAs took 'oath' not to deviate from their party position and vowed to abide by the directives of their leaders.
The result of the assembly floor test will be out on Wednesday evening. In my reckoning, the present malaise that has affected Maharashtra politics indicates a crisis of trust. None of the camps, or camps within camps, trust the other. The Congress still continues to distrust Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena is yet to show trust in the Congress, and Sharad Pawar, the veteran, old political warhorse, does not appear to trust either the Shiv Sena or the Congress.
Even in the ruling BJP camp, the party leadership is yet to trust the rebel NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who has been anointed deputy chief minister. MLAs do not trust their own party leaders and vice versa. Nobody knows who will go with whom.
It is because of this atmosphere of mistrust that 162 'aaghadi' MLAs assembled in the hotel on Monday were asked to take the oath of loyalty. MLAs are being herded like sheep from one hotel to another to evade horsetrading. The onus is now on the MLAs to decide at the floor test whom they want in power.
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