Will Modi call Sena’s bluff?

Will Modi call Sena's bluff?
Will Modi call Sena's bluff?

Navin Upadhyay

New Delhi, Oct 20

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]H[/dropcap]ow long will Prime Minister Narendra Modi put up with a reckless Shiva Sena? The question is getting louder by the day in the political and social circles as the BJP’s Maharashtra ally is doing everything possible to derail the development agenda that the Modi government at the Centre vowed to pursue to make India an economic super power.

With Sena launching one attack after another on the BJP and Modi, the Prime Minister will have to act sooner than later if he does not want to be an epitome of inaction like his predecessor Manmohan Singh.

Before the Sena and BJP broke their age-old alliance in Maharashtra and contested last year’s assembly election separately, the Sena was the big brother in Maharashtra politics. The Sena could never swallow the BJP’s success in emerging as the single largest party in the state after the polls. Though the two parties aligned to form a coalition government, the Sena had to accept BJP’s terms and forsake its claim on important portfolios. Smarting under the humiliation, the Sena never missed a chance to rub BJP the wrong way.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap] week ago, Sena’s hooliganism brought international disrepute for the country when its cadres smeared the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni, a long time associate of BJP veteran L K Advani, for rejecting Sena’s demand to cancel the launch of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book “Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy”. The incident was prominently published in the international media and drew widespread condemnation in the country. In an interesting twist an article appeared in Sunday Guardian suggesting that the ink throwing was orchestrated by Kulkarni himself.

Similarly, the Sena forced the cancellation of a concert by noted Pakistani Ghazal singer Gulam Ali in Mumbai. The BJP also ended up with its share of blame over the two incidents because its shares power with Sena. The fact that the Sena activists got away lightly despite such shameful acts exposed the helplessness of the Devendra Fadnavis-led alliance government in dealing with the Shiv Sainiks.

The Sena then unleashed a vicious attack on Modi and said he was hailed world over for the Gujarat riots. Nothing could have been more embarrassing for the Prime Minister who has been struggling to bury the legacy of the 2002 riots.

On Monday, the Sena once again brought shame to the entire country by not allowing Pakistan cricket board chief Sheryar Khan to hold a meeting with his Indian counterpart Shahasank Manohar in Mumbai. The way Sena’s hooligans stormed the BCCI office and forced the authority to shift the talks to Delhi has dented Modi’’s image of being a decisive and strong leader. The Sena is opposed to resumption of the Indo-Pak cricket ties.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]n the past, the way Sena cadres flouted the beef ban imposed by the state government during recent Jain festival also made mockery of Governance in Maharashtra under the BJP-Sena combine.

“There should be 100 more regions like Baramati in the country to ensure development.”

– Arun Jaitley

Mumbai is financial hub of the country and such unseemly developments will not send the right signal to the investment community. The display of helplessness shown by the BJP leadership in handling Shiv Sena is also seriously undermining the Prime Minister’s personal image. Under this scenario, the BJP is under tremendous pressure to rethink its tie with the Sena.
The question is when the divorce will come?

Political pundits feel that the BJP will have to stoically bear all the insult heaped on it by the Sena till the Bihar assembly elections. Any precipitous action at this time will harm the BJP’s prospect in Bihar. Incidentally, to queer the BJP prospect in the state assembly polls there, the Sena has also fielded its candidate. It’s a different matter that Sena has no presence in Bihar, where it is hated for carrying out assault on Bihari workers in Mumbai.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he BJP is already warming up to Nationalist Congress party (NCP), which seems ever ready to join hands with it if the Modi decided to dump Sena. The NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Modi share excellent rapport. When Sena played truant at the time of the government formation in Maharashtra, the NCP was more than eager to align with the BJP.

On a visit to Pune on Saturday, Finance minister Arun Jaitley spent a day with the Pawar family for in Baramati, sending a clear signal to the Sena that the Modi regime might be preparing a contingency plan to deal with Sena’s brinksmanship.

Jaitley praised Pawar saying, “There should be 100 more regions like Baramati in the country to ensure development.”

With Sena looking determined to push the BJP in a corner, Modi has few options but to call its bluff. If he failed to do so, the image of the NDA government will suffer and Modi’s leadership ability will come under question.

Navin is a senior journalist with years of experience in covering India’s Capital city. His keen observations and ability to create the big picture from disparate pieces of information is invaluable.
Navin Upadhyay


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