Anything is possible in love, war and politics. On Friday night, the Shiv Sena camp was elated after NCP supremo Sharad Pawar declared that Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray would head a coalition government for the next five years.
All the morning newspapers on Saturday published headlines about Uddhav to be anointed as the CM, but throughout Friday night, there were secret and hectic developments afoot in Mumbai. BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis along with NCP leader Ajit Pawar went to the Governor to stake claim for forming a government. President's Rule was revoked quickly and early in the morning, the Governor sworn in Fadnavis as chief minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy chief minister.
The Congress camp, in particular, was in a state of shock. Party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi tweeted that he first thought it was a fake news, but as reality dawned, he too was shocked. There was utter confusion in the NCP camp, with several MLAs claiming that they were with their supremo Sharad Pawar, and not his breakaway nephew Ajit Pawar.
By afternoon, Sharad Pawar addressed a press conference with Uddhav Thackeray claiming that all three parties, NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress, had the required numbers to form a government, and that his nephew has acted against his party's ideology.
Sharad Pawar claimed that hardly 11 out of the 54 MLAs were with his nephew, and even out of those 11, three have returned to the party fold. His associates alleged that Ajit Pawar had "misused" the letter of support given to him by the MLAs for staking claim by filling the blanks with the name "BJP".
Now that the political situation is still in a state of flux, all eyes will now be on the state assembly where the chief minister will have to prove his majority.
Let it be clear that Ajit Pawar did not join hands with the BJP all of a sudden. Secret talks were going on between him and BJP leaders on forming a coalition government, and it was he who had been dragging his feet for the last one month over tying up a coalition with Uddhav Thackeray.
Ultimately, it was BJP chief Amit Shah who had the last laugh. The midnight political drama was reminiscent of a political 'surgical strike'. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray who was trying to act smart with the BJP has been clearly outsmarted.