Maharashtra, the second most important Indian state electorally, was on Tuesday is set to be brought under federal government rule after ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its estranged ally Shiv Sena failed to form a coalition government more than two weeks after state elections threw up a fractured mandate.
A meeting of the federal cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday is understood to have recommended President's rule in Maharashtra where no political party has been able to form a government after the assembly polls last month.
The results of Maharashtra assembly polls on October 24 threw up no clear winner as the mandate does not permit any single party to form government on its own. The pre-poll alliance between the BJP and the Shiv Sena had the required number to form government as they together secured clear majority in the 288-member state legislature where the half-way mark is 145.
The BJP has 105 lawmakers in the state and Shiv Sena 56, the second highest number, followed by opposition Nationalist Congress Party (56) and the Congress 44. The Maharashtra assembly elections were held last month.
But the BJP and the Shiv Sena have fallen apart on the back of issues like chief ministerial position. The BJP refused to form government owing on its own due to the lack of numbers.
After the BJP refused to form government, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari invited the Shiv Sena. Shiv Sena then turned to the NCP and the Congress in a bid to form government but the NCP and the Congress are yet to take a final decision whether to back Sena.
The NCP has said it is ready to support Sena to form government if it snaps its alliance with the BJP.
The NCP on Tuesday said an alternative government cannot be formed in Maharashtra without the Congress's support and discussions among "three parties".
Addressing reporters after the meeting of NCP legislators held in Mumbai amid the stalemate over government-formation, the party's chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said the NCP has authorised Sharad Pawar to form an alternative government to end the political instability in the state.
Malik also said that senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Venupgopal will meet Pawar in Mumbai at 5 pm on Tuesday.
Shiv Sena on Monday suffered a setback in its efforts to cobble up a non-BJP government in the state with the Congress at the last moment announcing its decision to hold more talks with ally NCP on supporting the Uddhav Thackeray-led party. Maharashtra sends 48 lawmakers to the Lok Sabha, the second highest number after Uttar Pradesh (80).