Days of meetings, loud statements did not prove to be beneficial for the Shiv Sena-NCP and Congress alliance, and the parties were outdone by a simple strategy of the BJP who stayed quiet on proceedings
We live in interesting times and never has the media got it wrong on so many counts so many times. While everyone including the leaders of the Shiv Sena went to bed on Friday night thinking that they would form the government the next day, a team of the BJP worked late into the night to give all of us a surprise the next morning.
The headline at 8:10 am on Saturday, which was meant to read, “Uddhav Thackeray sworn-in as chief minister of Maharashtra,” instead read, “Devendra Fadnavis sworn-in as Maharashtra CM, Ajit Pawar, his deputy.”
Behind the scenes:
The NCP-Congress and Shiv Sena were in talks for the past several days and by Friday gave an indication that all issues had been sorted out. They even said that a Common Minimum Programme had been worked out and by Saturday they would stake claim to form government.
The Shiv Sena in particular was so confident that its top story in his mouthpiece, Saamana screamed, “Uddhav Thackeray.” However, by 8:10 am the news of Devendra Fadnavis being sworn-in broke out and this led to some Congress leaders too stating in disbelief that it was surreal.
Sources tell MyNation that Ajit Pawar was not happy with the developments. He spoke with the BJP and expressed his desire to extend support. The BJP entered into consultations that were overseen by the top brass. The discussions were so secretive that none got an inkling that such talks were on.
The BJP never issued any loaded statements or commented too much on the ongoing developments between the Shiv Sena-NCP and Congress. The source said that any major comments could have let the cat out of the bag and at any cost the political opponents should not get wind of it.
When all were planning on retiring for the day, the deal between Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar was struck at around 11:40 pm on Friday night. 10 minutes later, Fadnavis requests for a swearing in ceremony along with the letter of support from Pawar.
The BJP wants to ensure this would be a late night and early morning affair. The political opponents getting wind of the developments would only mean that they would race the BJP to the Raj Bhawan.
Pawar stayed on with Fadnavis and it was decided that both would go to Raj Bhavan together. By around 11:50 pm on Friday, the deal is done, and it is decided that there would be an early morning swearing in.
The Governor of Maharashtra, Bhagat Singh Koshyari who is supposed to travel to New Delhi conveys at 12:30 am on Saturday that his plans are being cancelled. At around 1:45 am, the Secretary to the Governor is told to submit the revocation of President’s Rule order. He is also told to arrange for a swearing in at 6 am. However, in the view of the arrangements to be made, the secretary requests a 7:30 am swearing in ceremony.
By around 5.30 am, both Fadnavis and Pawar reach Raj Bhavan. The President’s Rule is revoked at 5:47 am on Saturday.
Both Fadnavis and Pawar are sworn in as CM and Deputy CM at 7:50 am and news breaks out by 8:10am. The development is followed by congratulatory messages by both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister, Amit Shah.
Working away from the glare:
It appears as though the decision of the BJP to stay mum while the three parties discussed the government formation was a clear strategy. The BJP let the three parties continue with discussions and not speak about it. This was a clear strategy to keep things being worked in the background away from the public glare.
During all this, the Shiv Sena did make some noises that it was betrayed by the BJP. The BJP leadership had decided that enough was enough and even if the Sena was willing not to seek to implement the 50:50 formula, it was not going back to it. There was no question of approaching the Shiv Sena after all the drama that unfolded, a BJP source said.
The BJP was also well aware of the fact that not many within the Congress and NCP were happy with a Shiv Sena deal. Ajit Pawar was not entirely happy playing second fiddle to Uddhav Thackeray and the Congress felt that it would compromise its secular credentials if it entered into an alliance with the Shiv Sena.
The BJP source said that they were willing to wait a while more. However, by Friday, it appeared that the three parties had almost arrived at a consensus and would stake a claim by Friday. This is when the BJP moved fast, burnt the midnight oil and the rest is there for everyone to see.
Last Updated 1:10 PM IST