Overnight coup BJP’s failed gambit

NEW DELHI: The overnight coup that installed Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra chief minister has turned out to be a failed BJP gambit to capture power, uniting its rivals in the wake and exposing it to the charge of abusing constitutional positions and joining hands with a tainted figure to form government.
Hopes in the saffron camp about the chance of Fadnavis proving majority had begun fading after a majority of NCP MLAs rallied around its president Sharad Pawar on the very day the BJP leader was sworn in at a hurried ceremony, and the Supreme Court’s Tuesday order for the trust vote on Wednesday dashed them altogether.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held deliberations with BJP president Amit Shah and party’s working president J P Nadda at his office in Parliament over the options before the party in Maharashtra.
Hours later, Fadnavis resigned.
The BJP had believed that the defection of Ajit Pawar, who was the NCP legislature party leader before his removal on Saturday, to its camp followed by his swearing-in as the deputy chief minister will help it draw enough MLAs to gain a simple majority in the 288-member assembly.
That the Fadnavis government in its 2014-19 term had launched probe into Ajit Pawar’s alleged corruption when he was the deputy chief minister in 2009-14 Congress-NCP government and often attacked him over the issue, was conveniently forgotten by the BJP, critics said.
However, another rearguard fight by Sharad Pawar meant that even the few of the 54 NCP MLAs, who had joined the swearing-in ceremony, began deserting Ajit Pawar one by one.
The BJP has rejected the criticism over its decision to form government despite lacking numbers, with its spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao saying it had done so in “good faith” after being assured of the NCP’s support by Ajit Pawar. After Ajit Pawar put in his papers earlier in the day, Fadnavis also resigned, the party pointed out.
However, political watchers believe that there is little denying the loss of face the party has suffered in its bid to rule India’s richest state.
The BJP under Modi and Shah has never shied away from taking a shot at power whenever opportunity, at times engineered, has presented itself.
It formed government in Goa in 2017 even after falling behind the Congress in the seat tally as it cobbled together a majority by joining hands with smaller parties. Its experiment was, however, not so successful in Karnataka initially but it managed to return to the helm of affairs after topping the JD(S)-Congress government.
BJP leaders point out that ideological contradictions and ground level rivalry are only sharper among the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress than they existed among its rivals in Karnataka. (PTI) 

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