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NCP Chief Sharad Pawar would prefer elections than allow BJP to take the reins

Mumbai: If Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has his way, mid-term polls are imminent in Maharashtra, unless the Shiv Sena can stem the tide within its party and wean away five to six rebel MLAs from among the 32-odd MLAs currently under the sway of Eknath Shinde.

“There have been regular rumours about the imminent collapse of the MVA government for the past 2.5 years but nothing happened. The difference now is that a large chunk of the Shiv Sena MLAs have abandoned their party and-- more importantly- -Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray,” a senior political leader told First India.

“The logical political move here for the MVA government is to go to the people and seek a fresh mandate on the back of immense sympathy that would accrue to the three parties, particularly for the Shiv Sena.”

In his social media address on Wednesday, CM Thackeray was clearly speaking to the Maharashtra electorate and played the victim card with aplomb, an indication that mid-term polls may be his preferred way forward as well.

A senior BJP leader disagrees with this assessment.

“The BJP will seek the Maharashtra governor’s assent to prove our majority in the legislature once the MVA government admits to having lost theirs. We have already demonstrated it twice; in both the Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishad elections. The very fact that the MVA has not moved a proposal to elect a new speaker of the state legislature for a year since Nana Patole resigned clearly shows that they do not have the majority,” this BJP leader said. He added that the BJP’s strategy for Maharashtra would be to install its government at least a year before the state assembly elections slated for 2024.

Pawar, who has been assessing the political situation over the last two days, dropped in Varsha, the CM’s official residence along with his MP daughter, Supriya Sule, on Wednesday evening.

“Pawar is clear that he will call for mid-term polls the moment there is an indication that the BJP is instigating a change of government (as is being witnessed now) in Maharashtra. This is to checkmate the BJP gambit and retain power in the state until the assembly polls,” another leader said.

For the moment, both the Congress and the NCP have authorized Thackeray to take any steps--including installing a new CM from his party--needed to quell the rebellion in the Shiv Sena and continue the MVA’s political run, even if just for the short term.

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