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Shiv Sena Cheats Maharashtra

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Shiv Sena has swung the Maharashtra politics post-election. With the BJP out of contention in government formation and the NCP is banking on the Congress for supporting the Shiv Sena, Sonia Gandhi becomes the real kingmaker in Maharashtra now.

It is now certain that if Maharashtra has to get a government led by the Shiv Sena, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has to play a crucial role. The BJP has refused to stake claim and thereby following the Karnataka model of government formation, at least for now. The Shiv Sena, after being invited by the government, is "exploring" routes to government formation in Maharashtra with the support of the NCP and the Congress.

Sharad Pawar, the NCP chief, is virtually in the role of the mediator between the Congress and the Shiv Sena. He held a meeting with Sonia Gandhi last week discussing the possibility of aligning with the Shiv Sena if it snapped ties with the BJP.

Emerging from the meeting with Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar had asserted that the Shiv Sena should form the government with the BJP as their alliance was voted to power by the people of Maharashtra. Sonia Gandhi was understood to have expressed her reservations about the Congress joining or extending support to a government led by the Shiv Sena.

The BJP has 105 seats, the Shiv Sena 56, the NCP 54 and the Congress 44 in the newly elected Maharashtra Assembly. The Shiv Sena, which had claimed support of 170 MLAs last week, is confident of getting the support of nine other MLAs taking its effective strength to 65.

With the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition having collapsed and the BJP withdrawn from government formation exercise, the only alternative left is a post-poll alliance of the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress. While the Shiv Sena is ready for the tie-up, the NCP is weighing its options and more importantly, the Congress is extremely hesitant.

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