More than any other state—Karnataka, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh— where the BJP’s “Operation Lotus” succeeded in winning over opposition legislators, Maharashtra is a prize which the party is loath to lose.
Hence, the unseemly haste in swearing-in a government of its own when only a few weeks ago, the party had expressed its inability to do so. What made the BJP change its mind was the apparent success of the three unlikely allies—the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress—in being able to cobble together a Maharashtra Aghadi and come within striking distance of forming a government.
For the BJP, such a turn of events was unacceptable for two reasons. One was the message the new combine would send out that the mighty electoral machine of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah was not invulnerable. This could not but have an adverse impact on the party’s prospects on the eve of the Jharkhand elections, which have assumed extra importance in the aftermath of the BJP’s lack lustre showing in Maharashtra and Haryana.