Sharad Pawar, the man at the center of government formation talks in Maharashtra, has "outwitted the so-called Chanakya of Indian politics", a senior leader of his party said on Friday. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik didn't name anyone but his comment was widely seen to be directed at BJP chief and Union Home Minister Amit Shah who is often credited for being instrumental in the BJP's victories in several elections and government formations in the country.
Government formation in Maharashtra is in its home stretch as Mr Pawar's party, the NCP, the Shiv Sena and the Congress are likely to announce an alliance today after a series of meetings in Mumbai.
"Sharad Pawar Sahab has finally outwitted the so-called Chanakya of Indian politics. The throne of Delhi could not make Maharashtra bow down before it. Jai Maharashtra," NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik tweeted in Hindi.
The BJP and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena had contested the October 21 Maharashtra assembly election jointly and won 105 and 56 seats respectively. The BJP, despite being the single largest party, backed out of the race after a power tussle with the Sena. The Sena had insisted on rotational chief ministership and an equal share in ministries, which the BJP rejected.
Mr Pawar, 79, is a former Chief Minister of Maharashtra. In the last week, he has held multiple meetings - including with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi. His meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi caused a huge political buzz.
Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya Thackeray too met the NCP chief in Mumbai late Thursday night.
There have been reports that the BJP also pursued Mr Pawar - his NCP is only two seats behind the Shiv Sena and can help the BJP cross the majority mark in Maharashtra - and that the NCP veteran was offered the President's post as bait.
Maharashtra has been under President's Rule since November 12, after no party came forward with enough numbers to form a government.