The election of Rahul Narwekar of the BJP as a speaker at the Maharashtra assembly had made the result of today’s vote of confidence a foregone conclusion. Ultimately, the confidence margin of 164-99 was an improvement over the election of the president for government. With the support of many independent MLAs as well, the Shinde faction of BJP and Shiv Sena has little to worry about. Meanwhile, there is concern in NCP that some of its MLAs did not vote in the speaker elections

Prime Minister Eknath Shinde is also strengthening his hold on Legislative Party Shiv Sena by overturning Uddhav Thackeray’s choices for Legislative Party Leader and Whipleader. Uddhav and Shinde’s camp exchanging disqualification notices is a sign of a split in the days to come. But this would be complicated by the fact that many of Sena’s executives have yet to make a decision on where to move. Uddhav also appears to have more support among Sena representatives in Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha and the legislative council.

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Among the cadres, there is still as much goodwill for Uddhav Thackeray as there was unhappiness for his adherence to the “secular” camp. This is where BJP believes it has played a master stroke by appointing Shinde as prime minister. Uddhav doesn’t have many options now and will be particularly limping in having to seek NCP Congressional support in areas outside Mumbai where Shiv Sena and his camp followers are weak.

Shinde’s first challenge is to slip into the role of prime minister and establish a good working relationship with Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis. This is particularly crucial for the alliance as BJP is the senior partner by far and will have a lion’s share of the portfolios. With little time left for statewide urban civic polls, the new government will struggle to strike a balance between administration and election propaganda.



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