As the grand spectacle of Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant’s opulent wedding unfurls in Mumbai from July 12, Maharashtra’s political landscape is thrown into turmoil. The city’s high-end hotels, transformed into glittering fortresses for the event, are leaving state politicians in a desperate scramble. With the State Council elections slated for the same day, party leaders are frantic to corral their MLAs in secure, luxurious accommodations to stave off any poaching attempts by rival factions. Yet, the astronomical hotel rates, driven skyward by the influx of wedding guests, have them grappling with a dire predicament: how to keep their MLAs together, content, and out of reach of their opponents amid a city bursting at the seams with celebration and intrigue.

The three coalition parties of the alliance—BJP, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena, and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s NCP—have decided to keep their respective MLAs in secure locations. However, they are facing difficulties in securing hotels, according to party sources. National and international VIPs are arriving in Mumbai for the Ambani wedding. According to industry players, most five-star hotels in the South Mumbai area are fully booked, and those near the airport have multiplied their prices.

Three-day wedding

Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant will tie the knot on Friday, July 12, at the Jio World Convention Centre in BKC, Mumbai. The three-day celebration begins with the Shubh Vivaah (wedding) on the first day, continues with the Shubh Aashirwad (blessing ceremony) on July 13, and concludes with the Mangal Utsav (wedding reception) on July 14.

Room rates at Mumbai’s top luxury hotels have surged dramatically ahead of wedding, causing high demand from July 11-17. The opulent event has led to soaring prices, with some suites costing up to Rs 5 lakh per night. Many luxury hotels are fully booked, and rates have increased by 25-30 per cent. The high-profile nature of the wedding has attracted guests from around the world, driving room rates to unprecedented levels. Industry insiders expect prices to stabilize after July 20.

Poaching fear

The practice of poaching and approaching MLAs has now become a norm in State politics, especially after the 2019 assembly polls, in which MLAs changed  their loyalties and shifted  from one party to another. Elections will be conducted for the 11 State Legislative Council seats, and 12 candidates are contesting. Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are voters for these polls. All parties fear cross-voting since votes are cast through a secret ballot system. Hence, parties are desperate to move their MLAs into hotels and keep them under watch.

According to Shiv Sena and NCP sources, the parties’ budgets have gone haywire for this election. All high-end hotels are full, and many have increased their rates due to the high demand. Parties are considering shifting MLAs out of Mumbai and bringing them to the State Assembly only on voting day.