The Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra has been plunged into turmoil with 22 MLAs, led by sulking Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde moving to BJP-ruled Gujarat.
This comes hours after the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance and the BJP won five seats each in the Legislative Council elections.
The total strength of Maharashtra Assembly is 288. With one legislator dead, the number is down to 287. This means the majority mark in the Assembly, in the event of a trust vote, is now 144.
The MVA government of the Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress currently has 152 legislators.
The opposition BJP has claimed it has 135 MLAs.
If the “missing” MLAs led by minister Eknath Shinde resign, the Sena’s number comes down to 34. That brings down the ruling coalition’s strength in the House to 130. With 22 MLAs resigning, the new majority mark in the House will be 133.
There are two possible scenarios that can play out in this situation.
Sena MLAs defect, government falls but neither side has numbers to form government and President’s rule is imposed.
Or, Sharad Pawar, the man who formed the MVA, plays kingmaker once again.
Mr Pawar’s 53 MLAs hold the key. Will the NCP veteran forgive the Devendra Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar midnight swearing-in and team up with BJP?
Sharad Pawar is currently a key opposition figure in the anti-BJP coalition.