The Bharatiya Janata Party is in no hurry to engineer a split or woo legislators from other parties at this juncture, though it is short of numbers in the Maharashtra assembly.
This is despite several legislators from the Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party approaching BJP’s top leaders on the eve of election of the assembly speaker and the vote of confidence.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, claimed his government had been able to mobilise support of 140 legislators, four short of the half-way mark in the 288-member House.
The BJP has 121 legislators and its ally Rashtriya Samaj Party has one MLA. Besides, seven independents and three legislators of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi have also extended their support.
This apart, Peasants and Workers Party leader Jayant Patil has assured that three legislators belonging to his party and five other members of smaller parties are ready to support the government. The government faces the challenge to prove a majority on the floor of the House during confidence motion and election of Speaker, slated for November 12, the concluding day of the three-day session.
Fadnavis said: “I have already told my party colleagues not to entertain any suggestion by the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena members to join the BJP by resigning from their respective parties. I have also asked party members not to organise any meetings (of MLAs of other parties who wish to join the party) with me.”
Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had recently said about 27 legislators from the Congress and NCP have shown their desire to desert their respective parties to join the BJP. “However, the party has asked those legislators not to show any haste in quitting their own parties,” a BJP leader, who did not want to be named, said.
Another BJP minister, who did not want to be named, said it had been the party’s view not to attract any criticism from other parties that it was bent on engineering a split to achieve a majority in the House. “The BJP is quite confident that it would sail through the confidence motion, slated for Wednesday. As NCP chief Sharad Pawar observed no legislator wants fresh elections. The BJP will be able to muster support to run the government,” he said.