Devendra Fadnavis seems to be the loneliest politician in Maharashtra today. The fall in the BJP’s numbers in the assembly election means Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has refused to give him a pass for a second term as chief minister. Fadnavis describes Thackeray as a “close friend”, but in an unusual situation finds it difficult to reach out to a Sena chief adamant on getting an equal share in power. Indeed, it was Fadnavis’s stand—that the BJP and the Sena had never discussed sharing the chief minister’s post—that gave Thackeray solid reason to doubt the BJP’s intentions. Soon after, he sent trusted aide Sanjay Raut, the party leader in the Rajya Sabha, to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to discuss a possible alliance between the two parties. Raut claims the Sena has the backing of 161 MLAs. “The next chief minister will definitely be from the Sena,” he told reporters on November 4.
Raut’s calculation is based on the assumption that the NCP (54) and Congress (44) will support the Sena (56), and along with the backing it has from 7 independents, it will be able to form the government. An NCP leader says the party might form a government with the Sena with outside support from the Congress.
In a smart move, Pawar has neither ruled out nor confirmed the possibility of backing the Sena. He called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi on November 4, but later told repor