Union minister Nitin Gadkari today said there will be a "stable government" in Maharashtra under Devendra Fadnavis, who took oath early this morning along with Nationalist Congress Party's Ajit Pawar as his deputy. The completely unexpected development came amid efforts by NCP chief Sharad Pawar to stitch up an alliance between his Nationalist Congress Party and the ideologically disparate Shiv Sena and the Congress.
"I had earlier said anything can happen in cricket and politics, now you can understand what I meant," Mr Gadkari told reporters this afternoon. The minister had expressed similar sentiments when the Sena gravitated towards the NCP and the Congress and the BJP's chances of forming government looked slim.
The Sena and the BJP had fallen out after a 35-year alliance over the question of power share in Maharashtra. The Sena had insisted that the BJP had agreed to a 50:50 formula - which included sharing of the Chief Minister's post -- ahead of Lok Sabha election and had reneged on the deal after the results.
The BJP had dropped out of the race on November 11 and on the next day, President's Rule was declared in Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena, the Congress and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party have since been in talks to form government.
Yesterday, after a meeting in the evening, it was decided that Uddhav Thackeray would lead the alliance and be the Chief Minister.
Mr Gadkari had suggested earlier that the alliance would not last. "It would hurt the state and the three parties would fail to ensure a stable government," he said yesterday. The senior leader, known to be close to the leaders of the BJP's ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, had been closely watching the events in Maharashtra.
Devendra Fadnavis - who had met Mr Gandkari when he visited Delhi to meet party chief Amit Shah -- said, "Maharashtra needed a stable government, not a khichidi shaasan (mishmash government)".
"I thank NCP and Ajit Pawar for supporting us," he added, referring to a deputy he had often criticized for corruption.
Sharad Pawar has claimed that the BJP would lose the trust vote - reports suggest that Devendra Fadnavis has to prove his majority by November 30. Ajit Pawar, Sharad Pawar said, has misled the Governor and handed him letters of support that were prepped for the Shiv Sena-led alliance.