The state’s new chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has been telling friends he has still not shifted his belongings into his official residence because he may have to go back to living in the city’s MLA hostel any day.
But if his body language on Monday was anything to go by, Fadnavis is more than confident of winning the majority on the floor of the Assembly on Wednesday.
Sources close to Fadnavis said the CM is sitting pretty with 138 MLAs — only seven short of a majority in the 288-member house — having pledged their support to his government, in case the Shiv Sena does not join.
In all, 121 MLAs from the BJP, one from the BJP’s ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, seven independents, three from the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, three from the Peasants and Workers’ Party and three from other small parties will bolster the ruling party on Wednesday, insiders said.
Although the BJP won 122 seats in the elections, it lost one after Mukhed MLA Govind Rathod died of a heart attack on October 26.
“Some may vote in favour and others may abstain or stay neutral,” said a senior BJP leader, who has been talking to these MLAs. He said some independents have been offered ministerial berths in exchange for their support.
The BJP, however, might not need their support if the Nationalist Congress Party (41 MLAs) supports it from outside or the Sena joins the government. However, it will have to keep its options open in future because the NCP has decided to extend issue-based support and might pull the plug if something goes wrong.
Even the Sena can find a reason to call it quits, said a BJP leader. Fadnavis refused to comment on the possibilities. “Everything will fall into place. Please wait till the trust vote,” he told HT.
Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, however, expressed optimism that the BJP government would not only win the floor test but also complete its full five-year term. “It is the Shiv Sena’s decision... we are not worried as many of their legislators have already assured us of support. There are sufficient MLAs (legislators) to help us secure a majority,” Khadse said.
In response to the Sena’s demand on the NCP, the BJP maintained it had not asked the NCP for support and blamed the Sena for approaching NCP leaders in a bid to defeat the BJP during the trust vote.
(With agency inputs)