Shiv Sena should remember is, a large chunk of Hindu voters now sees Sena as a force that was ready to spoil larger cause, just for the sake of personal ambitions.
We should not be discussing this. With the verdict on Ram Janma Bhoomi case out, we are supposed to be discussing how the Bhavya Mandir would be coming up.
But, life doesn’t go as expected and planned. So, we are forced to look at the state of Maharashtra state. Seems political climate in Maharashtra is set for long winter. Of course, leaders from all parties wanted a stable government for the state – because people deserve it. There were cross-party parleys with no clear results. Sanjay Raut, who was pretending to act like a statesman, which he apparently has not even tried to evaluate his chances of forming an alliance with NCP and Congress.
In this column, I would like to suggest Sanjay Raut read Mahabharatam. In good old secular days, the great epic was broadcasted every Sunday at 12 noon by Akashvani, Vijayawada. Late Usha Sri used to explain the epic with great insights. He remarked that Udyog Parva is one text that every aspiring ambassador and politician and administrator should read. Based on various negotiations before Kurukshetra, he remarked there were four types of ambassadors/negotiators.
Four types of negotiators appear in Mahabharatam. The first one was Purohita of Drupada, the one who doesn’t have any knowledge of the issue at hand but tells the truth in the straightest possible manner. The second one was Sanjaya who discusses without breaking the stick but even the snake is not dead. The third one was Sri Krishna, who hits the cobra at the centre with a powerful blow and breaks its spine. The fourth one was Uluka, son of Shakuni who foolishly breaks already broken minds further. The way the stalemate occurred in Maharashtra, one can imagine what type of negotiator Sanjay Raut is. Why Sanjay Raut and not others? Because, he was the only one who was talking continuously – ever since results declared and up to Fadnavis resigned as CM – and even after.
Sanjay Raut claiming Shiv Sena got the support of 170 MLAs and this figure may increase to 175 was one of the most laughed at claim ever after Rahul Gandhi promised he will give 72K per month to farmers
The difference in Mahabharata and Maharashtra is Dhritarashtra chose to fight for the case of Duryodhana, but Sanjaya remained aloof. Instead of being a telereporter, Sanjay (Raut) chose to play the role of adviser to Dhritarashtra and doubled up as even negotiator representing Dhritarashtra.
Now as Sanjay Raut propelled himself into the centre of happenings so they can never happen, what did he do? Or, for that matter why he or his words matter? In the days of Balasaheb Thackeray, it was through Saamna, the Marathi daily run by Shiv Sena the old patriarch communicated to his followers. Saamna was the interface between Bal Thackeray and his followers. So, even if old Thackeray is no more, the interface has not changed. Even today, despite Uddhav Thackeray, being the president of the party, whatever Saamna publishes, is considered as the line of the party. In other words, Sanjay Raut used Saamna to influence Uddhav and eventually the party’s stance on all matters. Moreover, which father would refuse if his son has a chance to become the Chief Minister?
However, as Chandrakant Patil explained it to a journalist, Sanjay still remains a journalist – and can speak/ comment on anything or anyone as he feels. None would take him seriously. If fact, it was because of his image that even BJP didn’t take him seriously initially. By the time they realised Sanjay was serious and really representing Uddav, it was too late. Sanjay had already stirred the water so deep that the stink started spreading – even to other parties.
More than the demand of Chief Minister (CM) Post, it was the way it was played that ruptured the already strained relationship between the parties. Whether there really was a 50-50 scheme that involved the rotation of the chief minister post between alliance partners never really mattered.
When Shiv Sena demanded the CM post for the first time, it amused everyone, including Sainiks. They thought Uddhav Saheb was trying to negotiate hard with BJP for a few more cabinet births. Given the number of seats, even if Shiv Sena asked CM post for the one-third term, it would sound ridiculous as polity is not math. While the BJP leaders remained silent, Sanjay Raut was enjoying being interviewed by fellow journalists. The language he used is not something that a politician or journalist uses normally. Perhaps, only a journalist turned politician uses such language. There was no subtlety, even as he was demanding or explaining his position. Forgetting how he as a journalist got amused by the news of a man biting dog, he continued to amuse his journalist friends. Failing to contain their own was a great amuser, the journalist flock was engaging him more, while the alliance continues to slide into the deep sea.
Sanjay Raut claiming Shiv Sena got the support of 170 MLAs and this figure may increase to 175 was one of the most laughed at claim ever after Rahul Gandhi promised he will give 72000 rupees per month to farmers. Even Sharad Pawar wondered how Sanjay got that figure! When the self-indulgence of Sanjay Raut has gone overboard, even his party supporters felt uneasy and – embarrassed. Though sycophancy is not new to Indian politics and even to Shiv Sena, the way Sanjay was performing so many verbal feats to get the party’s future Pramukh installed as Chief Minister was just not what Shiv Sena used to. In fact, all Shiv Sena has seen in the last three decades of its history was just the opposite. Many leaders with mass base have left the party, including Uddhav’s cousin. One can see how the erstwhile Shiv Sainiks fill the ranks of Congress and NCP. From Bhujbal to Rane to Raj Thackeray – all have left the party when their growth was scuttled. So, seeing one leader wearing sycophancy on his sleeves explains only one thing. That he has no base in the masses. He was there only because his master allowed him to be there. He is doing what he was doing only because his master ordered him to be there. One may argue Uddhav did a genuine mistake of choosing Sanjay to handle the future career of Aditya, who is a promising politician. But, there is a great dearth of seasoned leaders in the party’s ranks.
On the face of it, it may appear Shiv Sena is playing bluff seriously. But, did they play their cards well? That is one question to which neither Uddhav nor Sanjay has answers. They are depending on the fluidity of the situation that may evolve from the point they left it – and hope it may be good to them.
However, considering the ground reality, the present stance of Shiv Sena may not favour them in the immediate future. Uddhav had to say that Shiv Sena is not power-hungry but only seeking their agreed share. However, forcing Devendra Fadnavis to resign with only about fifty seats as BJP didn’t agree to make his son Chief Minister only paints Shiv Sena as a power-hungry party. In fact, Uddhav tried to bring the pressure tactics that erstwhile Shiv Sena was notorious for playing in Bombay streets, to the political arena.
The funny episode was shifting MLAs to hotels and resorts. If SS jailed its MLAs in Mumbai itself, Congress who thought their MLAs were being poached shifted them to a cooler place
Sanjay Raut, on record, went and met NCP. Though NCP might have sensed an opportunity to make some quick bucks, Congress was averse to the idea of joining hands with a party, which perhaps practices more Hindutva than BJP. Congress knows very well that cobbling a government with SS and NCP means only giving more time to BJP to realign its forces and deliver the knockout punch. Once bitten in Karnataka, Congress is twice shy – first in Haryana and now in Maharashtra. There shatters the dream of Shiv Sena – of having their own CM.
Uddhav has revealed that he promised to his father that one day there will be a Shiv Sena CM – as if there never was. He might have forgotten there were two CMs from his party. However, there never was a Shiv Sena Chief Minister, who was not supported by BJP. There are chances that senior Thackeray wanted his party to come to power on its own, but Uddhav misinterpreted it. Even when BJP has far more seats than what SS has now, BJP never asked to have their man as CM. Neither Bal Thackeray offered it out of sticking to fair game rules.
The funny episode was shifting MLAs to hotels and resorts. If SS jailed its MLAs in Mumbai itself, Congress who thought their MLAs were being poached shifted them to a cooler place. Of course, horse-trading is an old game in Indian politics. Even now, if Congress is ready to move one step towards SS and SS moves two steps away from BJP, NCP will act as a glue to form a government. Who cares even if it lasts for three months? Sharad Pawar will continuously say NCP will sit in opposition – till the deal is struck. His deputies would be working behind scenes.
As of now, there are more chances that fresh elections may follow after a brief rule by the President. Maybe BJP won’t respond to any overtures by SS now. Perhaps BJP may even consider playing solo expecting results from a solo performance may help SS in differentiating between swell and muscle. There were some fundamental mistakes SS did in the last fortnight. First one was a call out to RSS to instruct BJP to mend ways. While the Congress and Communists were cheering with glee on proving their accusation that RSS was remote controlling BJP, Shiv Sena remained stubborn. Even as someone like Subramanian Swamy requested them to ally with BJP in the larger interests – they choose to be myopic. Worse was the second step. Asking to replace Fadnavis and suggest Gadkari be the CM – even as this news was widely spread in media amounts to not interfering in internal affairs of BJP, but directing BJP leadership what they should do. Perhaps Uddhav may one day realise how he was misdirected into the centre of the whirlpool, but for today, the strategy of Shiv Sena is proven to be wrong.
Consider the facts. Shiv Sena runs BMC, the only fiefdom it rules, with the support of BJP. In the last municipal elections, the edge SS has over BJP was wafer-thin. If BJP pulls the rug from below its feet, SS would be losing the only source of funds. BJP can afford not to form government in Maharashtra. Can SS afford to lose BMC? That is the question.
The media meanwhile was directing BJP’s allies to learn from Shiv Sena on dealing with BJP, without a single workable suggestion. Giving in to SS at this stage will make life hell for BJP in all states. Every Tom, Dick and Harry will start dictating terms to BJP and within no time BJP will be where Congress is now – thriving on life support system provided by smaller allies. This would never be acceptable to BJP. Considering the affirmative nature of its current leadership, it will be long before BJP may even consider initiating talks with Shiv Sena. In the worst-case scenario, they can always rely on buying NCP rather than talking to Sena.
Bhakts who celebrated the alliance before elections as Amit Shah’s mastery may not accept the strategic mistake the shrewd politicians committed but I am sure Amit Shah might have acted on those who recommended for alliance in the first place. I think it was only Fadnavis who wanted to be a gracious leader and recommended the alliance. Maybe this experience made him wise, for he was left to fend for himself. Of course, some frustrated BJP leaders might have encouraged Shiv Sena, but they have nothing to lose. They lost everything already and so are frustrated. They ensured SS too would lose and get frustrated.
However, what Shiv Sena should remember is, a large chunk of Hindu voters now sees Sena as a force that was ready to spoil larger cause, just for the sake of personal ambitions. I put it mildly for the real, strong terms may be too wild.