Curiously, the swearing in of a new ministry with Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray as chief minister in Mumbai on Thursday does not draw the curtains on the month-long drama on ministry-formation. After much shenanigans as also ugly twists and turns, the Sena chief has realized his ambition of becoming the CM, the first from the high-profile Thackeray family; but fireworks are still heard in the background. The report that a set of 15 Sena legislators have taken objection to the party’s break from the NDA has potential to blow into a new crisis for Uddhav and the three-party alliance.

Without doubt, Uddhav has the profile to head a government, considering his leadership of the Sena since the demise of his father and party founder Bal Thackeray in 2012. What stands against his ascension to this post are that his party has no more than 56 MLAs in a house of 288, and that he has had no governance experience. At the same time, that he enjoyed the majority support in the assembly was a foregone conclusion, given the size of the NCP and the Congress with their 54 and 44 legislators respectively. Likely, however, the last word is still not heard.

The BJP, which made a vain effort to run the government, has been forced to sit in the Opposition, thanks also to the Machiavellian games played by NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Pawar’s promise to make Thackeray the CM was more than a lure to the Shiv Sena to break ranks with the BJP – with which it shared power for long years and contested assembly polls this time too.  All is fair as long as the government enjoys majority support in the state assembly. Principles in politics are a thing of the past, and competition for power is cut-throat. The Sena alone cannot be blamed for its about-turn from its traditional ally at the critical last hour. Ajit Pawar, whose somersaults are proof of the depths to which politics in India could sink, fared worse.

A matter of concern, to many, is also the nature of the three parties who joined hands to share power in India’s richest state. The Shiv Sena and the NCP are regional heavyweights thriving on corrupt practices for long years. The Congress, the third in the ring, is game with corruption too. The BJP is licking its wounds, of course. Its misadventure in allying with Ajit Pawar brought a bad name to it in more ways than one. A safe guess is that political stability in Maharashtra will still be a far cry because chances of horse-trading are there was in Karnataka past the 2018 polls there.

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