Maharashtra CM for 3 Days, Devendra Fadnavis Resigns Ahead of Floor Test After Ajit Left Pawar-less

Maharashtra CM for 3 Days, Devendra Fadnavis Resigns Ahead of Floor Test After Ajit Left Pawar-less

New Delhi: The BJP’s attempt to cobble up the numbers in Maharashtra with the support of Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar came undone on Tuesday, three days after it installed Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister after a series of secret maneuvers that snatched the reign of power from the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine.

Forced to face a trust vote on the floor of the Maharashtra assembly on Wednesday to prove it had the majority, the BJP found itself wanting for numbers and decided to pull the plug on its bid for power. Fadnavis, at a press briefing, announced he would tender his resignation to the Governor since the BJP was not in a position to form the government.

He said that after the Supreme Court gave the trust vote date, NCP’s Ajit Pawar met him and informed him that he can’t continue in the alliance. “Since he resigned, we don't have the majority,” Fadnavis said.

An hour before the briefing, Ajit Pawar, who was sworn in as the deputy chief minister Saturday, had resigned as his efforts to engineer a split in the NCP fell flat.

The BJP had repeatedly asserted till as late as Tuesday afternoon that it would prove its majority, but the party’s claim of having 170 MLAs rested solely on Ajit Pawar and his ability to get enough NCP MLAs to defect and support Fadnavis’s claim.

That prospect, however, failed to materialise as the canny elder Pawar not only prevented the BJP from luring any more NCP lawmakers, but also got back almost all of the MLAs that had initially sided with nephew Ajit.

In a show of strength held at a five-star hotel in Mumbai on Monday evening, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance had paraded 162 MLAs. Of them 52 were from the NCP. Sharad Pawar was also confident of the 53rd lawmaker returning to the party fold, which would have left Ajit Pawar as the sole defector.

Without the NCP’s 54 MLAs that the party had claimed the support of in its letter to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari on November 22, the BJP was left with 116 lawmakers – 105 of its own and 11 from smaller parties and independents – far short of the halfway mark of 144.

Not wanting a repeat of the Karnataka episode, where chief minister BS Yediyurappa had last year resigned just before facing a Supreme Court-mandated floor test, Fadnavis announced his resignation at a press briefing a day before.

Taking a jibe at the Sena, Fadnavis said he was afraid this government will get buried under its own burden. “Only to remove BJP, they have all come together. Congratulations for that helplessness,” he said, adding that the BJP will work as an effective opposition.

This now leaves the door open for the Sena, NCP and Congress to together stake the claim to power and form the government, 33 days after the state threw up a fractured mandate, setting in motion protracted negotiations and machinations for the seat of power.