As the Congress considers providing outside support to a Shiv Sena-NCP bid to form the government in Maharashtra, Sanjay Nirupam has warned of political instability and potentially even mid-term elections in the state. Mr Nirupam's warning is the second in as many days and third this month; on Sunday he cautioned the Congress and the NCP against allying with the Sena, calling it a "disastrous move", and last week he urged the Congress not to get involved with the Sena-BJP "drama".
"No matter who forms (the) government and how... political instability in Maharashtra cannot be ruled out now. Get ready for early elections. It may take place in 2020. Can we go to the elections with Shiv Sena as partner?" Mr Nirupam, who was formerly with the Sena, tweeted this morning.
Mr Nirpuam earlier said an alliance with the Sena could prove "disastrous" for the Congress-NCP duo.
"In the current political arithmetic in Maharashtra, it is just impossible for Congress-NCP to form any government. For that we need Shiv Sena. And we must not think of sharing power with Shiv Sena under any circumstances. That will be a disastrous move for the party," he said on Sunday.
No matter who forms govt and how ? But the political instability in Maharashtra can not be ruled out now. Get ready for early elections. It may take place in 2020.— Sanjay Nirupam (@sanjaynirupam) November 11, 2019
Can we go to the elections with ShivSena as partner ?
Government formation in Maharashtra took a dramatic turn on Sunday night after the BJP refused to stake claim. Invited to do so by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, the party said it did not have the numbers; the BJP won only 105 seats in October's elections and needs the Sena's 56 MLAs to cross the majority mark of 145 seats.
After the BJP backed down, the Sena was given till 7.30 pm to indicate "willingness and ability" to form the government. However, it too needs support and has looked to the NCP and the Congress, which won 54 and 44 seats respectively.
However, that appears to be no easy task.
Sena leader Arvind Sawant's resignation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet this morning meets a key condition of the NCP - that the Sena sever all ties with the BJP-led NDA before discussing a bid for power in Maharashtra.
But even a Sena-NCP alliance is not enough.
They will need the Congress's 44 MLAs, who have been sequestered in Rajasthan (a state ruled by the Congress) since last week. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi met NCP chief Sharad Pawar last week to discuss extending support to the Sena, something she ruled out at the time.
That could change now, however, with the Congress's Working Committee, the party's top decision-making body, meeting today to discuss if and how it will back a Sena-NCP government.
There are sections within the Maharashtra Congress that are open to supporting the Sena in an attempt to stop the BJP. Last week Hussain Dalwai, a Rajya Sabha MP, wrote to Sonia Gandhi and told her Muslims in the state preferred a Sena-led government to one led by the BJP.
In the event a Sena-NCP bid also fails to gain enough seats in the Assembly (a NCP-Congress bid is unlikely to be considered given they have only 98 seats together), mid-term elections in Maharashtra are a possibility, despite the fact full Assembly polls were held only 21 days ago.
State politics has been in flux ever since the election results were declared on October 24, with the Sena determined not to give in on its demand for "50:50" representation and sharing the Chief Minister's post. The BJP has been equally determined it will remain the dominant party in the alliance.