Now that the drama on the Maharashtra Government formation seems to be coming to an end, the need of the hour is to analyse it and see what the takeaways are.
Who won and who lost?
Prior to the Lok Sabha elections of 2019, the scenario in Maharashtra was as follows – The Shiv Sena was preparing to fight the Parliamentary elections all alone like it did for the Assembly elections of Oct 2014 and some of the Municipal Corporations like Mumbai in 2017. We understand from sources in Delhi that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) top leadership before the Parliamentary elections had done a survey of the electoral chances in Maharashtra and came to the conclusion that if the Hindutva parties were to go in the elections separately then both will lose and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)/ Indian National Congress (INC) would have an edge over the Hindutva-based parties. Based on this, it appears that the Prime Minister (PM) intervened and asked Amit Shah to strike a deal with Mr. Uddhav Thackeray at any cost. The understanding was that for the Parliamentary elections there would be an almost equal sharing of seats but Uddhav Thackeray wanted a composite understanding and insisted on an understanding for the Assembly elections too. Thus, it was agreed by the BJP to have an understanding for Lok Sabha, Assembly, and Govt. formation in Maharashtra; broadly it was a 50:50 sharing formula and a rotation of Chief Ministership of Maharashtra after 2.5 years. This was confirmed by Mr. Uddhav Thackeray in a conversation to a senior BJP leader separately after the Parliamentary elections of May 2019.
Due to the mismanagement of Maharashtra affairs by some BJP leaders, the Grand Old Party of India has again got a breathing room in the state of Maharashtra. This faux pas on part of BJP means that Congress lives to fight another day.
The BJP leadership in the run-off to the Assembly elections of Oct 2019 was overconfident and reckless. They ignored some stalwarts in the distribution of BJP Assembly tickets, ignored loyalists and rewarding newcomers and opportunists. In Mumbai city alone, in the last 7 months, 4 senior BJP leaders and Ex-BJP City Presidents have been denied a Parliament Seat and 3 Assembly seats despite all the 4 persons being incumbent MPs or MLAs. The language of the BJP leaders during the elections was shocking.
In the Assembly elections both the Hindutva parties fought together, and the result was below expectations – the BJP got 105 seats and the Shiv Sena, 56. The results were worse than that of Oct 2014, despite being the incumbent parties. This should have been a warning signal that all is not well in Maharashtra.
The NCP got 54 and Cong 44 seats. The normal method would have been for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance to comfortably form the Govt. At this stage, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray and Shiv Sena started making noises on the sharing of power and wanting the Chief Ministership. The real demand was Shiv Sena wanted the BJP to publicly announce and have a written understanding that after two and a half years, the BJP will agree to a Shiv Sena CM. Both parties should have seen the ground realities and come to an understanding as their performance was worse than that of 2014 and even May 2019 Parliamentary elections, where the alliance was leading in more than 220 Assembly segments.
Split CM-ship was the issue
On this issue, all hell broke loose. The BJP Information Technology (IT) cell started a campaign to malign the Shiv Sena and various stories were floated that Uddhav Thackeray wanted his son Aditya to be the CM, etc. and all this led to further chaos amongst the Hindutva parties and Mr. Uddhav Thackeray seemed firm to have his share of the victory and not budge from his position.
Perhaps the BJP Central Leadership thought that all this posturing by Shiv Sena was just noise and Shiv Sena will fall in line but it did not happen. Unlike other BJP leaders who were committed to Hindutva and some alliance parties of BJP elsewhere, the Shiv Sena seems to be made of tougher leadership and not ready to compromise and therefore, they did not budge. Although Uddhav Thackeray may have a genuine grouse of not getting a fair share of Ministers in Delhi and also not being treated well as part of the coalition govt in Maharashtra, he was ready to go to any extent to ensure that Shiv Sena was relevant.
What happened in 2014?
It would be worth noting that in 2014, first Mr. Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the Chief Minister without having majority of MLAs with him; Shiv Sena had been kept out of the Govt. formation and if we remember correctly, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray wanted to keep away from the swearing-in-ceremony at Wankhede Stadium but agreed to attend at the last moment.
Thereafter in 2014, it appears that due to intervention of Dr. Subramanian Swamy and the Sangh Parivar, Uddhav Thackeray agreed to be part of the Hindutva Govt in Maharashtra. Some top BJP leaders were then toying with the idea of a ministry with the NCP even in 2014.
During the 2014 to 2019 period, we saw many ups and downs in the relations between BJP and Shiv Sena and now fast forward to Nov 2019.
Game of Numbers
It was always a Game of Numbers. In the first round, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis failed to form the Govt, then a chance was given to Shiv Sena and they sought extra time; the same was repeated with NCP and finally, President’s rule was imposed with the assembly kept under suspended animation.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena was drifting away from Hindutva Politics veering towards the NCP and Congress and was on the verge of formation of Govt as announced by them in a Press conference at Mumbai on 22nd November 2019.
Suddenly there were confabulations during the night; perhaps some top BJP leaders thought of playing some games and quickly had President Rule revoked using the PM’s special powers under rule 12 of Transaction of Business. In the dark of the night, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar got together and staked a claim to form the Govt and the Governor accepted it too! Both were sworn in on 23rd Nov 2019, without the world realising what had happened and how they had got together. If they really had a majority, then what was the haste to do things, that too clandestinely? Many Mumbaikars woke up on the morning of 23rd Nov with disbelief and not understanding the real meaning of what had happened while they slept.
Now that the game has collapsed it is time to fix the responsibility for whose hare-brained idea it was that caused this fiasco.
It is a Democracy!
If a group does not have a majority so be it! Horse-trading and other similar methods will not really help in the long run… Either you have a majority or you don’t!
All news and theory, bravado talks & painting some leaders as being larger than life, are useless. The Game of numbers in formation of any Govt at State and Centre is the floor test as laid down by various judgments of the Supreme Court from time to time starting with the Famous Bommai case of Karnataka. And this is what happened in Maharashtra too when the Supreme Court expedited the Floor Test.
Make people accountable
It is time to make people accountable and punish those responsible for the fiasco of not having a Hindutva Govt in Maharashtra. What should have been a stable government has now become an opportunistic government. Worse, BJP lost a Hindutva friend, that too in the state that has the financial capital of the country.
In the past, the BJP has formed governments in Uttar Pradesh with opponents like Mayawati and with Kumaraswamy in Karnataka where both the non-BJP leaders ended up being the CM. BJP accepted Mufti & later on Mehbooba Mufti as the CM of J & K and shared power with them. The Mufti-family run party, the PDP, was totally opposed to the views of Hindutva of BJP. Similarly, the BJP is in Govt with Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (U) in Bihar despite Nitish in the past having formed a ministry with Lalu Prasad Yadav.
What stopped the BJP from walking the extra mile to reach out to the Shiv Sena who were the blood brothers of Hindutva since 1984 Parliamentary elections? In late 1984, Mr Pramod Mahajan had reached out to Balasaheb Thackeray on the prodding of A B Vajpayee as Balasaheb had reached out to Dr. Subramanian Swamy (the then Janata Party MP from North East Mumbai) by inviting him to the annual Dussehra rally on 11th Oct 1984 at Shivaji Park, where a first South Indian and non-Maharashtrian, Dr. Swamy spoke from the Shiv Sena platform. BJP leaders sensing that Balasaheb Thackeray and Dr. Swamy will team up, befriended Shiv Sena to thwart the coming together of Dr. Swamy and Balasaheb. Anyway, that is history now.
The last few days have dented BJP’s reputation
Now let us analyse the events of the last few days – the BJP, by teaming up with Ajit Pawar, who it called corrupt and all sorts of names during the last 8 years has given Ajit Pawar & the NCP some respectability. In the process, the credibility of the BJP is dented by this short tie-up with Ajit Pawar. It has also damaged the image of the BJP top leadership and the Prime Minister who was perhaps misled. On the other hand, the BJP had awarded Padma Vibhushan to Sharad Pawar; the PM praised Sharad Pawar’s party for good behaviour in the Parliament and in the past the PM when he was a CM had said that he looked towards Sharad Pawar for inspiration. All this has added to the confusion of the people of Maharashtra.
In the coming months, it will be difficult for BJP to talk of Ajit Pawar & NCP corruption and campaign against it after having tried to form the Govt with them.
There are reports in some newspapers of the RSS Chief having advised Devendra Fadnavis in the first week of November not to be in hurry to form Govt in Maharashtra without having a majority and to reach out to Shiv Sena to form the Govt.
The Congress in the country and especially Maharashtra was fast sinking. Rahul had abdicated his post and Sonia was ineffective in electoral politics. Due to the mismanagement of Maharashtra affairs by some BJP leaders, the Grand Old Party of India has again got a breathing room in the state of Maharashtra. This faux pas on part of BJP means that Congress lives to fight another day.
The Shiv Sena too should not have drifted from the Hindutva Group. By joining hands with the NCP and INC, they have also sullied their Hindutva image. Both are unreliable partners in the long run and could ditch the Shiv Sena at the first opportunity. It is time for the BJP also to realise that it was a mistake to lose a like-minded sibling. In Politics, one can never rule anything out.
 No horse-trading, no poaching: Mohan Bhagwat tells Fadnavis to not form govt without Sena – Nov 7, 2019, MumbaiMirror.com
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