Congress MLA from Nasik, Hiraman Khoskar, claimed that he received an offer of Rs 20 crore to break away from his party. "I have informed my state leadership that some people offered me Rs 20 crore to resign. But I won't do that as I am loyal to my party and voters," Khoskar said in Mumbai on Friday.
Looking at these 'lucrative' offers being made to their MLAs, Congress has decided to fly all its legislators out of the state. A total of 44 MLAs will be parked in Jaipur, Rajasthan, waiting for next movement in Maharashtra politics.
This is 16th day of the Assembly election results, yet a government in Maharashtra is yet to be formed. Rather, the game is starting right now!
Shiv Sena, which won 56 seats and has now earned support of eight independent MLAs, has moved all its elected legislators to a hotel in Mumbai. All these MLAs are under strong 24X7 surveillance by Shiv Sena cadre. Meanwhile, the BJP ally is still sticking to its position that it will settle for nothing less than the Chief Minister’s post for the first two-and-half years.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is otherwise very active in forming governments despite his party having low numbers, is yet to enter the scene. To provoke him, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Chief Sharad Pawar, a veteran politician in the state, even quipped that he was “keen to see his (Shah's) skills in Maharashtra.”
BJP, too, is not ready to give in to the Sena’s demands. "We are firm on keeping the Chief Minister’s post with us. We have 105 MLAs and Sena has 54. How can a party with almost half the numbers claim the highest post?" said a senior BJP leader from Maharashtra.
On the other side, there appear to be differences within the Congress about supporting Shiv Sena or sharing power with it. The party's central leadership believes that Sena is Hindu Right party and sharing power with it could damage Congress nationwide. But almost 36 out of the party’s 44 MLAs are in favour of joining a government with Sena to keep BJP out of power from India's second largest and financially rich state.
The term of Maharashtra's outgoing 13th Assembly will end by November 9. While the BJP has publicly said that it won't stake claims of government formation without Sena on board, the Sena is egging on BJP to go ahead and form a government if it is sure of having the numbers.
In such a situation, the buzz about 'President’s Rule' has returned in the corridors of power. Many believe that after November 9, the Governor may ask Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to be a 'caretaker CM' for some time. Sensing this plan, Sena MP Sanjay Raut said BJP's attempt to install Fadnavis as caretaker CM while simultaneously holding political negotiations “won't succeed” in state.
As of now, on this political chessboard, everyone is trying to make the initial moves before the high-voltage battle starts. If the current stalemate continues, the political scene may reach boiling point by November 9 night.