The previous series by Author on Maharashtra politics can be read at – ‘How BJP Dig a pit for itself’) and ‘How Shivsena dug into the pit BJP dug for itself’
As expected, President’s rule was declared in Maharashtra. Aditya Thackeray chose to be sarcastic when he observed: “The Governor gave us six months instead of two days we asked for”. It is this unnecessary sarcasm that was the root cause of many of Sena’s problems. The moment Shiv Sena or NCP or even Congress reaches the Governor they are in a position to form the government, the President’s rule would be lifted. Knowing this, if the party chose to knock the doors of the Supreme Court. Instead, they should have knocked on the doors of 10, Janpath so they can get a support letter from Congress. If Sena wanted to be sarcastic, they should be at Congress that kept Aditya waiting at Raj Bhavan for close to one hour for want of support letter. Can Aditya afford to be sarcastic with Congress? NO.
Before that Shiv Sainiks had seen how Shiv Sena Pramukh started parleys with Sharad Pawar, the Bhishma Pitamaha of Maharashtra politics and the Queen Bee of Congress. Irrespective of how the Governor acted still it is possible that the next government can be formed by Shiv Sena with support from NCP and Congress providing either issue-based support or be part of it. Though NCP may stake a claim for the top post, they knew well enough that SS will not be on board if CM is not from that party. If SS could give up claim to the CM post, they would have remained with BJP and there absolutely was no need to talk with NCP and Congress.
However, NCP/INC may not accept Aditya as CM candidate and so every senior Sainik will throw his hat. To prevent the party from breaking, Uddhav Thackeray will be forced to become Chief Minister. Though it may appear as a win for Uddhav Thackeray and Shiv Sena, in reality, becoming CM is a demotion to Uddhav. This is because his father and founder of SS, the original Pramukh – in whose name still the party seeks votes always felt he was a King and not a Minister. He always maintained he would not be part of the government. For the Shiv Sena members, the Chief Minister is supposed to be a subordinate of the party’s Pramukh.
It was false narration by Sena about sharing CM’s post. I wonder why BJP failed to question them on this. If there was such an agreement of sharing CM tenure, why Uddhav Thackeray did not seek votes to have a Sainik CM?
For a moment, consider the Maha-Shiv-Aghadi, the alliance of SS, NCP and INC comes to power. After overcoming initial hiccups, Congress will realize it may be prudent to join the government to improve its financial condition. For how long the government can survive? Here are three parties that have three different, contradicting ideologies as they claim to have. After losing elections, why NCP and INC would like to join hands and legs with SS? Because they can’t afford to fight another election.
Given the prevailing situation in the country and the state, BJP has an edge over all three parties put together. For one, SS can’t take on BJP after the Ayodhya verdict – on Hindutva plank, especially after pairing with Congress. Fortunes of NCP may not change much because there is a fixed vote share dedicated to Pawar. Congress, like SS, will be losing further. That was why Congress wanted to join the alliance.
Does it mean the alliance will provide a stable government? The answer is a big NO. Congress would soon realize the flip side of allying with Sena. In all other states, where it claims to be Secular (whatever does it mean for the party), it would lose minority vote. Considering its present abysmal situation, Congress may still go ahead and support SS for the short term funds requirement. But, to project themselves as vanguards of secularism, they will pull down the rug from under the feet of Thackerays at the first opportune moment. So, the ultimate loser would be Shiv Sena. Only NCP is in the win-win situation in the Maha-Shiv-Aghadi with Sena losing control over Maharashtra and Congress losing face everywhere else.
Now, should BJP be happy about such bad treatment of Shiv Sena?
Refer to Subramanian Swamy cautioning about not to play the role of moralist Bhishma who silently watched Draupadi getting stripped. If BJP chose to be silent, it means the party has not learned anything from the great epic. You may settle scores with SS later, but it is time to rise above party politics and align with ideology. True that Sena behaved badly by badmouthing BJP publicly in the media and people will remember that. The same people will also remember that being the bigger ally how BJP failed to prevent Sena from joining ranks with the corrupt parties.
It was a false narration by Sena about sharing CM’s post. I wonder why BJP failed to question them on this. If there was such an agreement of sharing CM tenure, why Uddhav Thackeray did not seek votes to have a Sainik CM? Never in the run-up to the elections, Uddhav sought votes from Sena voters to vote to SS so someone from the party can become CM. Why BJP failed to raise this question is beyond my comprehension. Establishing that Sena’s interpretation of 50-50 is something that fails to cut ice with voters is vital.
Given its present comfortable position across India, BJP is entrusted with great power by Indians and so they have a great responsibility to keep the ideological fabric intact.
One thing Shiv Sena and its leaders need to realize is that despite being a five-decade-old party, Sena failed to come to power on its own, while many younger regional parties have ruled their states. This fact is sufficient for Sena to relent on its decision of parting ways with BJP. And, the argument of Uddhav that he promised a Sena CM to his late father is factually wrong. There was a Sena CM even during Bal Thackeray’s time; in fact, two CMs as Manohar Joshi was replaced by Senior Thackeray himself by Narayan Rane. If Uddhav promised a Sena CM, it means Sena forming a majority government without support from NCP and Congress whom Balasaheb called names. So, what Uddhav spoke about Sena CM too was wrong.
Once Sena concedes CM post, it is easier to discuss further. Aditya can be made Deputy Chief Minister and Uddhav remains as the most powerful Shiv Sena Pramukh. Aditya can learn administration, which is entirely a different ball game from playing the role of an occasional fighter for some causes. Handling administration makes one be responsible.
Consider what BJP sacrificed for Shiv Sena. Suresh Prabhu was kept out of the cabinet and Kirit Somaiya was denied ticket. If allies are not together, it is natural Somaiya would return to BJP with all his might to fight Sena. Given the present situation, can Sena retain even BMC? Leaving BJP will only cause Sena to lose much more, including the demotion of Uddhav Thackeray to CM. People will note who, for the sake of power left Mahayuti and joined with NCP and INC, perhaps the most corrupt combo in the country.
It is time BJP brings Raj Thackeray too into the Sena fold. If Raj too joins Sena, the continuous slide of its fortunes may reverse. On its part, though it destroyed all its other allies, BJP never played with Sena. It was Sena that always provoked BJP. There still is time for Sena to return to NDA as nothing concrete has happened.
Can’t BJP make Uddhav see what would be his future in leading the government with NCP and INC as partners? Already Sonia gave him a taste of Italian Durbar by withholding formal support. How Uddhav expects to run the assembly and pass bills to which they have to accommodate whims and wishes of NCP and INC? He may realize how much trouble Sanjay Raut caused to BJP by his editorials. But, is it necessary to learn by burning fingers?
As Spiderman said, greater responsibility comes with greater power. Given its present comfortable position across India, BJP is entrusted with great power by Indians and so they have a great responsibility to keep the ideological fabric intact. It is time for BJP to play the role of Big Brother in real sense. Not the one who snatches candy from kid brother but the one who protects the kid brother. There were mistakes from both sides and there is no use on harping them forever. What happens today to Shiv Sena may happen to BJP tomorrow. Politics is a game of uncertainty. And BJP doesn’t have a Shakuni who can control dice.
As someone said, he who prevented the worst from happening is better than who survived the worst. It only takes a phone call from Amit Shah and Narendra Modi and a visit by Nitin Gadkari to Matoshree. If BJP and SS parted ways forever, the loss is NOT only for these parties. History will remember how Indians failed to unite against – Italians, after failing to unite against Mughals and the Brits. Need I say more? Moreover, Shiv Sena needs you. Uddhav already dropped hints. Consider them.
It takes only a few words to convince Uddhav and bring Sena back into NDA. Will BJP do it? I hope they do.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.