Could Congress be planning a toppling of BJP government in Maharashtra?

There are whispers that three parties — Sena, Congress and NCP — may come together to topple the Fadnavis-led government as they calculate if they have the numbers to pull it off

Could the Congress, still miffed about the 'coup' in Manipur and Goa, be planning a toppling of the BJP government in Maharashtra? If buzz in the legislature is to be believed, a new axis of Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP is aligning up under the guise of the demand for loan waivers from farmers. Reportedly, with the NCP already in its corner, the Sena has now asked the Congress for support to form its government.

While speculation in this direction has been rife for the last couple months, it's the coming together over the waiver that has led to repeated parleys between the three parties recently. Since a midterm poll is now virtually dead, the only way to muzzle the BJP is to topple its government by accumulating sufficient numbers.

A senior Cong leader told mid-day, "We have had several meetings with the Sena to discuss the issue. The Sena wants a letter of our support in advance so that it can take a step towards toppling the government. The Sena says that the NCP has pledged its support in this adventure."

One of the senior Sena leaders, who had an informal meeting with the Congress leaders at the Vidhan Bhavan on Wednesday, said all possibilities were being explored as all three parties were unhappy with the BJP government's functioning.

What of the high command?
However, Congress leaders also insisted that they wouldn't be able to meet Sena's demand without the high command's approval. "A similar strategy was considered ahead of Mumbai's mayoral elections, but our leadership did not approve. Finally, we had to nominate our candidate," a leader in the know, said. The state NCP leaders, though of the opinion that the current stasis must be concerning the BJP, also said that they are depending entirely on Sharad Pawar's green signal.

A senior NCP leader also noted that he doubted if the Thackeray-led party would dare pull out from the BJP government. "It's very hard to foretell what Pawar will decide because he is on good terms with PM Narendra Modi," said the leader.

Pawar met Modi on Wednesday to seek the loan waiver for farmers in Maharashtra. Meanwhile, Sena ministers who met Fadnavis said that they have asked the CM to meet the PM and seek the government's financial assistance for the Rs 22,000 crore loan waiver. "We want houses to function, but at the same time we also want a relief for farmers," said transport minister Diwakar Raote.

On Wednesday, the BJP decided to power through lower house proceedings despite resistance. Some bills were passed even as the Sena and opposition MLAs stormed the well of the house. The government also got supplementary budget demands approved without paying any heed to the opposition charge.

A BJP leader said his party was prepared to tame the Sena. "When the budget is discussed department-wise, the respective ministers ask the house to approve the budgetary allocation to his department. Here the opposition may seek voting, but we will ensure that our members are present in sufficient strength."

Do the numbers add up?
If the Sena does manage what it's planning, it will have more than 145 MLAs, and the majority needed to form a government. "The Sena has 63, the Congress 42 and the NCP 41. A couple of legislators from smaller parties and independents may also join," said a Sena leader.

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