Even as the Uddhav Thackeray Government is tottering with the Shiv Sena rebels managing at least 40 legislators in favour of the BJP, the goings-on in Maharashtra are not exclusive to this State and ring a familiar bell.
The political turmoil, which threatens to uproot the MVA Government in Maharashtra, started with the BJP winning five out of 10 seats during the recent Maharashtra Legislative Council elections. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena managed two seats each, while Congress got one.
The current battle for the key state with a 288-member Assembly seems all set to catapult the BJP to power. The saffron party has 106 legislators and its allies have eight seats. So with 114 MLAs, the BJP and allies are 30 short of the halfway mark of 144.
Eknath Shinde and the over 40 rebel legislators who are with him are in a strong bargaining position, while Uddhav Thackeray, the NCP and the Congress are staring at a sureshot collapse.
For the BJP, such an operation is not new. Here’s how:
* After the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) (JD-S) coalition in Karnataka collapsed in July 2019, the Congress alleged that the BJP had demonstrated “one of the most heinous” horse-trading in the country ever. Twelve legislators from the coalition quit and the government collapsed.
* In March 2020, BJP successfully toppled the Congress’ Madhya Pradesh Government forcing then Chief Minister Kamal Nath to resign. After 15 months of assuming office, 22 MLAs rebelled against the Kamal Nath Government. This also led senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia to quit to embrace the BJP.
* In 2021, BJP unseated the Congress Government in the union territory of Puducherry though the former didn’t have a single legislator there. In the subsequent Assembly elections, the BJP won six of the nine seats that they contested. Then Congress leader and PWD minister A Namassivayam quit the party and pledged allegiance to BJP, prompting the resignations of Congress legislators to join the saffron party.
* Earlier in 2017, BJP took over Arunachal Pradesh when 33 out of the 43 People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) MLAs led by then CM Pema Khandu joined the saffron party. Before joining the PPA, Khandu was with Congress.