In politics, everyone is a friend and everyone is a foe. Equations change, alliances are forged and broken and a person on political sidelines sometimes suddenly finds himself on the throne. The game can go in any direction. And there is no telling what may happen next.
But when all of this happens in a span of a single day, it baffles even the most seasoned political pundits. Maharashtra's politics went through such a churn on Monday (November 11).
There was no certainty about the next government in Maharashtra when the day began. And things were somewhat the same by night.
But what happened during the day was spectacular.
BJP had made it clear on Sunday (November 10) that it will not form government in the state as it does not have adequate numbers. Shiv Sena was adamant on its demand of Chief Ministerial post and refused to budge. Overtures were made to Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress. The deal appeared to be sealed.
The NCP gave a positive response to Shiv Sena but it raised its own demand. It wanted Shiv Sena to quit BJP-led NDA if it wanted to join forces. This was a steep demand. BJP and Shiv Sena had been allies for decades.
But on Monday, Arvind Sawant, Shiv Sena's lone minister in the Central government, tendered resignation post instructions from Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
This seemed decisive. It seemed like a solid blow to the BJP.
To add to it all. Sawant waved the resignation letter in front of the media and spoke triumphantly. Something suggested that Shiv Sena was confident of its march.
The Game of Thrones:
Congress and NCP quickly went in respective huddles to chart out strategy. Heavyweights of Maharashtra Congress like Ashok Chavan, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Prithviraj Chavan rushed to Delhi to speak with Congress high command. Sharad Pawar consulted his party colleagues as well.
The Phone Calls
Strong political signals were received when NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray spoke with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. It seemed a matter of time when the three parties would come together to keep the mighty BJP away from power. As Shiv Sena and NCP leaders spoke with their counterparts in Congress, there was considerable movement in Rajasthan where Maharashtra Congress MLAs were holed up
The Moment of Reckoning:
Declaration of unusual but, as some would say, 'ingenious' alliance between Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP seemed a mere formality as Shiv Sena's Aaditya Thackeray left Matoshree to meet Maharashtra Governor BS Koshyari. The Thackeray scion was accompanied by Shiv Sena's legislative party leader Eknath Shinde and other senior Sena leaders. Aaditya Thackeray reached Raj Bhavan around 6:30 pm.
All eyes were on the younger Thackeray as he came out and prepared to address media. It was highly anticipation that he would tell media about his claim of forming the government.
But things took an unusual turn.
"We were given 24 hours' time to express our willingness to form the government. We have shown our willingness and also staked our claim. We sought additional time of two days from the Governor, which was declined," said Aaditya Thackeray. It soon became clear that the Sena had been unable to obtain unequivocal support from Congress and the NCP.
Enter Nationalist Congress Party:
Former Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar appeared in front of the media and told journalists that Governor Koshyari had invited NCP leaders to Raj Bhavan. This sent state politics in yet another tailspin.
Delegation of NCP leaders met the Governor and it was then it was declared by the party that it had been invited to form government. NCP leader Nawab Malik said that it will discuss options with the Congress.
BJP's "Wait and Watch":
BJP camp seemed on backfoot after Sunday's announcement. But given what happened on Monday, there were movements again. Right after NCP leaders left the Raj Bhavan, BJP's Sudhir Mungantiwar told the media that the party is in "Wait and Watch" mode.
President's Rule in Maharashtra?
Government formation in Maharashtra has indeed been a complex affair. No solution is in sight currently and no single party appears to be in a position to form a government, either on its own, or by stitching together an alliance. Will this lead to imposition of President's Rule in Maharashtra?
Let's wait and watch!