MUMBAI (Maharashtra): Amid the high-voltage political drama going on with regards formation of the next government, the most likely scenario emerging is that of a Shiv Sena (SS) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance government that is ‘supported from outside’ by Congress.

Congress abstaining would save both itself and Shiv Sena the blushes of making an ‘opportunistic alliance that goes severely against their stated and steady ideologies‘.

The magic figure of 145 rests on the assumption that all 288 legislators will take part in the trust vote. But if the 44 Congress MLAs decide to abstain from the trust vote, preferring to stay neutral, the effective strength of the Assembly will diminish to 244.

In this scenario, the ruling coalition will need the support of just 123 legislators. The Shiv Sena and NCP have 110 MLAs have of their own — while the rest of the numbers can be gained through enticing the many independents and smaller parties.

If that happens, Congress can loudly claim that it did not support the Sena-NCP combine — because of the presence of Shiv Sena — and yet ensure that the BJP is kept outside the power corridor.

More importantly, for Congress, it would give out the message — or, at least the Congress would like to believe and tell the world that it gives the message, to its largely minority-sensitive vote bank — that it did not support the ‘communal Shiv Sena’, even when its ally NCP did, and chose to sit in the opposition.

Therefore, it would be in power while sitting in the opposition benches; allying with a ‘rabid Hindu outfit’ while keeping the Muslims in good humour. It would be the quintessentially slick Congress style of ‘having the cake and eating it too‘.

The smaller parties include the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (3 MLAs), MIM (2), Samajwadi Party (2 ), Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the CPI(M) with one legislator each.

It has already been reported that the Shiv Sena has secured the support of eight independent legislators.

In any case, the thumb rule in Indian politics is that independents and smaller parties almost inevitably support the power gravy trail, or, whichever formation is more likely to form the government.

If, as per my belief, the NCP and Shiv Sena do come together to stake a claim, the first task would be the election of the speaker.

Since the entire exercise is because the Shiv Sena wants its chief minister, the Sena would most certainly give the post the NCP — a choice that would readily be supported by the Congress.

Remember, the elected speaker of the Assembly will conduct the trust vote in the house.


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