As Uddhav Thackeray offers to resign and vacates his official residence, here's some number crunching on the Maharashtra political scenario.
Numbers in assembly: Shiv Sena won 56 seats in 2019, and has the same strength today. KSP MLA SY Gadakh joined Shiv Sena, while Sena's Andheri East MLA R Latke, unfortunately, passed away. This maintained Sena's tally at 56.
NCP won 54 seats in 2019 but now its seats are down to 51. This is because it lost a by-poll for the Pandharpur seat to the BJP and two of its MLAs, Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik, are in jail and can’t vote.
The BJP won 105 in 2019, which went up to 106 when they wrested Pandharpur from the NCP.
Congress has stayed static at 44 seats because it won by-polls to the seats it got in 2019.
Numbers for government: The effective house strength is presently 285 – three less than the 288 seats it is meant to have.
Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition started off with a total of 169 MLAs in 2019. That figure went up to 170 in 2020 when the KSP joined the Sena, but has now reduced to 167.
The halfway mark from 145 for a full house, has also reduced to 143 now.
What can be the scenarios: These scenarios will tell us what Eknath Shinde, or the BJP, probably won’t do.
Scenario 1: Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs get disqualified.
This can happen when the count of rebel Sena MLAs gets stuck at 36 or below it because 37-seat mark is needed to beat the anti-defection law.
The latest update suggests that Eknath Shinde has got the support of 34 MLAs for continuing as the party's legislative leader, in a letter sent to the state governor.
After disqualification, the MVA’s tally will be down to 126, the effective house strength down from 285 to 249, and the majority mark from 145 to 125.
Scenario 2: After Scenario 1, some independent MLAs join BJP.
Assume that five independents presently allied with the MVA switch to the BJP (a real possibility).
Also, nine out of 12 ‘Others’ (we have to deduct two of the AIMIM, and the lone Communist seat, since the probability of them aligning with the BJP is remote) join BJP.
This raises the BJP coalition’s strength to 123. The BJP would still be two short of the majority mark, and the MVA would still retain a slender majority of one, with 126 seats.
Inference: Shinde and his rebels won’t risk disqualification since that means a minimum of six months before they can return to the power game – if they get re-elected.
The BJP gains nothing from a pack of disqualified Sena MLAs, since they would still struggle to cross the halfway mark.
One plausible strategy is for Shinde to corral more than 37 rebels, formally, and legally, split the Shiv Sena, and then consider an alliance with the BJP.
That is an attractive option to the BJP too because it obviates the wearisome task of bargaining with a motley crowd of ‘Others’.
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