The season of defections has started in Maharashtra, two months ahead of the assembly polls. On Tuesday, four opposition legislators including three from the Nationalist Congress party (NCP) and one from the Congress joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at a function organised by the party in Mumbai.
This is being seen as one of the first such functions that the BJP might end up hosting over the next two months as the inflow from the opposition camp continues until the eve of the polls.
Water resources minister Girish Mahajan glibly told reporters a day earlier that as many as fifty opposition legislators were in talks with the BJP. If Mahajan, a close aide of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is to be taken seriously, it would be mean that two-thirds of the 83 Congress-NCP MLAs want out.
Even if this is an exaggeration, the fact is that a majority of opposition MLAs increasingly view the 2019 state polls as a one-sided fight stacked heavily in favour of the saffron parties.
And, in a re-run of the defections ahead of the Modi wave in 2014 polls, many opposition legislators appear to prefer to migrate to the ruling parties to cling to power.
But the defections, run down by the opposition as opportunistic movements, also point to its state in Maharashtra.
Shivendra Raje Bhosale, a three- term NCP legislator from Satara who switched sides on Wednesday, said the Congress and the NCP had clearly “lost the plot”.
“It is clear already that they are unlikely to come to power in the state. In such a scenario, if I want to keep promises to my people and do development in my constituency, I am better placed with the BJP,’’ said Shivendra Raje Bhosale, a descendent of the Maratha warrior king Shivaji’s family, said.
Over the last few weeks, the NCP has lost five of its legislators, its Mumbai city chief and women’s wing chief to BJP-Sena.
The Congress is expected to lose at least another five to six MLAs in the coming days.
This exodus has its roots in the Congress-NCP coalition’s failure to play the role of aggressive and credible opposition in the last five years.