For someone who wants to model his government on the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s at the centre, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis may well lose his first battle.
With former ally Shiv Sena still sitting on the fence and staking claim to the leader of Opposition post, Fadnavis may have to lead a minority government, unlike Modi, who is sailing on a full majority in the Parliament.
While that frees Fadnavis of a troublesome coalition ally, his government may now have to be dependent on the whims and fancies of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar even as it combats an Opposition led by the Sena. For starters, it translates into keeping a high decibel corruption agenda on the backfoot.
“The way things are going, it seems the BJP’s long-term plan is to have mid-term polls in a year and a half by breaking away from the Sena. But while the party focuses on politics, whether it can deliver on people’s high expectations is the million dollar question. These troubles could be just the beginning for the government,’’ said Prakash Bal, political analyst.
Bal also slammed the Sena-BJP’s continued stale mate saying it was making a mockery of democracy.
Sources in the BJP admit its long-term plan has always been to occupy Sena territory in the state completely and, in case of a minority government, break legislators away from its saffron ally.
In the meanwhile, however, Fadnavis will have to run the government by walking a tight rope. Besides not delivering on promises such as taking action in the irrigation scam, he will face hurdles to get his pet legislations like the Right to Services, Lokayukta Act and amendment to the Bombay Police Act passed unless the NCP is on board.
While getting bills and even the budget cleared in the state Assembly may not be a problem given its strength of 123 legislators, in the legislative council, the numbers go against the BJP (only 11 MLCs as opposed to NCP’s 28, Congress 22 and Sena’s eight).
The party will have to be at the mercy of the NCP in the council to get anything cleared for at least the next two years, till it can stake claim to many more MLC posts as and when the tenure of existing legislators expires.
By losing the support of 63 Sena legislators, the Fadnavis-led government will also open itself up to scrutiny and attack by a resurgent Opposition that will include three parties (considering the NCP has also taken a stance of being in the Opposition).
This means an attack on several fronts, starting with the failure to deliver on promises made such as toll-free roads, drip irrigation subsidies for farmers, welfare schemes for sugarcane farmers and pension schemes for women.
“With the state’s financial health in a precarious position, delivering on the development agenda is going to be difficult. If Fadnavis has to prove himself, he will have to take some tough calls and that is not easy without a full majority,’’ said a senior BJP leader.
Congress’ newly-elected deputy leader, Vijay Wadettiwar said, “There have been so many empty promises by BJP that our line of attack will be easy. We have studied all of Modi’s speeches made during the Assembly campaign and we will start by picking holes in them.’’