Top Shiv Sena leader and minister Eknath Shinde has done the disappearing act with some MLAs, including Independents, leaving his party and the Uddhav Thackeray government in trouble.
It is not clear how many MLAs are with Shinde, who is an influential Sena leader with a good following in the state.
Reports say the missing MLAs are in a hotel in BJP-ruled Gujarat, a destination which speaks volumes about the possible future course of action.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut claims that they have established contact with Shinde. He has accused the BJP of destabilising the MVA government.
Raut’s claims notwithstanding, there are also reports of a full-blown rebellion in the Sena with more party MLAs heading to Gujarat to join the dissidents.
The Shiv Sena and the BJP are allies turned foes. They have been at loggerheads ever since the two parties parted ways after contesting the assembly elections together.
The Shiv Sena, which had less numbers in the assembly but wanted the CM’s post, ditched the BJP and formed the Maha Vikas Aghadi government with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress as coalition partners.
The BJP, which won the maximum seats, was forced to sit in the opposition after a failed midnight attempt to break the NCP and form the government sans the Shiv Sena.
Trouble was brewing in the MVA since the Rajya Sabha elections where the alliance suffered a shock defeat indicating that all was not well.
The BJP managed to win an extra seat despite not having enough numbers, pointing to cross voting by some MVA legislators.
In the council polls held yesterday, the BJP yet again outsmarted the ruling alliance.
Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka versus Rajasthan
This is not the first time that such a political drama has played out in recent times.
We have seen the BJP forming governments in two important states by defeating the opposition in the numbers game.
In Karnataka, the Congress-JD(S) government was dislodged from power after several dissident MLAs of both the parties did the disappearing act. Led by BS Yeddiyurappa, the BJP eventually formed the government in the state. The BJP had emerged as the single largest party here in the last assembly elections but could not form the government.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Kamal Nath-led Congress government had to quit office after senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia did the disappearing act with his supporters. Scindia eventually joined the BJP and is now a Union minister.
However, in Congress-ruled Rajasthan, senior leader Sachin Pilot, who had rebelled against chief minister Ashok Gehlot and had done the disappearing act with his supporters, was placated by the grand old party and the Congress managed to save its government in the state.
Maharashtra seems to have taken the first step towards a similar political crisis.
BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has an axe to grind against the Shiv Sena. He is being credited with the surprise wins the party managed in Rajya Sabha elections and the Council elections.
Will the BJP once again manage to outsmart and outnumber the opposition here? Or will the Shiv Sena manage to convince its disgruntled leaders like the Congress did in Rajasthan.
Well, we will know this soon.