Running the new Maharashtra cabinet will be an uphill task

Rohit Chandavarkar
Saturday, 26 October 2019

If one looks at a 35-year scape of Maharashtra Assembly, one can see how the trends have changed from a single-party rule to a multi-party coalition situation in the House. In 1980 elections, the Congress Party won 186 seats. In 1985, they came down to 161 seats (still a clear majority). In 1990, the Congress got 141 seats. In 1995, the Congress was overthrown for the first time by Shiv Sena BJP alliance which got 138 seats with 29% vote share. In 1999, Congress and NCP returned to power but had only 133 seats, while in 2014, BJP won 122 and Shiv Sena won 63 and captured power with a post-poll alliance. Now it’s a four-horse race in which no party can get 186 seats like the Congress got in 1980 polls. The days of single-party rule are over.

Aday after the BJP led saffron alliance established a clear majority in Maharashtra Assembly, much is being talked about how things will shape up in the coming months and whether this BJP Shiv Sena government will be stable, given the signals Shiv Sena has been giving since the past 24 hours. There are a few clear takeaways from the results that have rolled out.

First is that people have not given a very landslide mandate to any one party and this according to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has happened because of rebellion. The ruling coalition faced more rebel candidates than the opposition.

Secondly, people seem to have clearly rejected defectors. Leading faces who defected from the opposition to ruling party en masse with their supporters have faced defeat.

Thirdly, it’s going to be a four-party assembly with ruling alliance having to do a tight rope walk to accommodate all elements to make it a stable government. So Fadnavis and his leaders have to think about how to accommodate the alliance partners as well as a few heavyweights who crossed over to their party and managed to win their seats and then also think about the loyal party leaders who are crucial for them.

So firstly to accommodate enough Shiv Sena names including party’s young face Aaditya Thackeray, then to accommodate leaders like Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Mohite Patil family and then party loyalists like Girish Mahajan and Vinod Shelar is going to be tough. All these faces will be in the same cabinet led by Devendra Fadnavis. To balance them and keep it free of pushes and pulls is going to be an uphill task as the Sena is already showing signs of discomfort and talking about wanting a ‘Fifty-Fifty’ deal.

If one looks at a 35-year scape of Maharashtra assembly, one can see how the trends have changed from a single-party rule to a multi-party coalition situation in the house. In 1980 elections, the Congress Party won 186 seats by themselves with 44% vote share. In 1985, they came down to 161 seats (still a clear majority) with 43% share. In 1990, the Congress got 141 seats (just below majority) with 38 % share. In 1995, the Congress was overthrown for the first time by Shiv Sena BJP alliance which got 138 seats with 29% vote share. In 1999, Congress and NCP returned to power but had only 133 seats with 49% votes. In 2004, they retained power with 140 seats while in 2014, BJP won 122 Shiv Sena won 63 and captured power with a post-poll alliance announced three months after election results. Now it’s a four-horse race in which no party can get 186 seats like the Congress got in 1980 polls. The days of single-party rule are over.

When you have a four-party house and a sizeable number of independent candidates or small party candidates, you are in for instability. In such a case, the stability of the government cannot be ensured. The BJP will form a new government in Maharashtra next week with Shiv Sena, it will be business as usual for the first year or so. but after that its going to be some phases of uncertainty that this government will have to face. It is going to be a tough task to run this government smoothly.

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