As survival threat loomed over the Maharashtra government after the rebellion of 21 Shiv Sena MLAs led by Minister Eknath Shinde, all eyes are now on NCP supremo Sharad Pawar to intervene in the biggest political crisis the Uddhav Thackeray government has faced so far.
As BJP's surgical strike on Shiv Sena rattled the leadership of three parties -- the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena, the Congress has rushed its state in-charge H.K. Patil and Pawar is also reaching Mumbai to save the government.
While Congress has maintained that its flock is together, sign of bickerings is evident in the MLC polls as Congress' second candidate lost to BJP and in Rajya Sabha polls too, BJP managed to get through. However, the Congress is confident that Sharad Pawar will save the government who is key to the MVA.
But BJP has surprised all the leaders as the MLAs opposed to Uddhav Thackarey moved to Surat. This could be Madhya Pradesh type operation, said a Congress leader while anticipating a fall of the government.
Sharad Pawar said on Tuesday that it was never conveyed that Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde had chief ministerial ambitions, adding that a solution to the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra would be found out soon.
"Shinde never conveyed (to us) that he wanted to be the Chief Minister (of Maharashtra). The Chief Minister's post is Shiv Sena's and this is an internal issue of that party," Pawar told mediapersons ahead of the opposition meeting to finalise a consensus candidate for the Presidential poll.
"We will soon find a way out of this situation. The CM's post is Shiv Sena's, Deputy CM's is NCP's. Whatever Shiv Sena will decide, we are with them," he said.
The BJP is also wary of poaching of its MLAs. It is flying all its 106 MLAs to Gujarat, to be housed in a resort near Ahmedabad.
Sources said, once the meeting of Eknath Shinde with senior BJP leaders is over, he will submit his resignation as minister in the Uddhav Thackeray cabinet to the governor.
The entire operation started post the MLC elections. In two batches 25 Shiv Sena MLAs reached Surat early Tuesday morning, while a third group reached Surat in a flight on Tuesday evening.