By Harihar Swarup
Politics is a weird game. Yesterday, it appeared that BJP-Shiv Sena alliance had been saved from breaking, but overnight the situation took a surprising turn. Tension between BJP and Sena, which had shown sign of abating on Wednesday flared up within 24 hours. Insisting on an “equal power sharing” formula with the BJP for government formation in Maharashtra, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray upped the ante by declaring that he was in touch with the Congress and NCP as well, appearing to signal that he was prepared to explore other options.
As if to drive the point home, Sena leader and MP Sanjay Raut met NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Asked whether the Sena was looking for support from the NCP, Raut significantly refused to divulge the nature of discussion with Pawar. He, however, said: “I think our party chief has already made things clear… he has clearly said all options are open.”
This development is interpreted in two ways in political circles. Firstly, is it a blackmail tactic to tell the BJP that if formula of rotational chief minister is not accepted, Sena will move out of alliance and form government along with NCP and the Congress support it from outside? Or, if the Sena is serious about joining hand with the NCP to form the government?
On senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan’s remarks that the party was waiting for a proposal from Sena, Raut said Uddhav has already clarified who he was in touch with.
At a meeting with his party’s legislators, Uddhav is said to have expressed his displeasure over Fadnavis’ remarks that no equal power sharing formula was decided ahead of Lok Sabha elections and asked legislators to watch a video of the chief minister addressing the media in February after forging alliance with Sena. “He can be seen talking about equal power sharing formula. We just want them to keep their word”, said Uddhav.
A senior leader said the BJP was trying to convey the impression that Sena chief was lying. “It is not acceptable to us. How can they show our leader in such a bad light? So Uddhav clearly said that the Sena has other options open, including that of NCP and the Congress”. Meanwhile, an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana, said Fadnavis publicly used the word “equal powering sharing” while addressing the media before the Lok Sabha polls. “Now if anybody is saying that the CM’s post was not included, then we need to write new lessons of political science. Equal power sharing includes all”, it said.
It added that the BJP broke the alliance with Sena after its victory in the 2014 polls under the leadership of Narendra Modi. “Now the BJP has started another chapter after getting a similar victory in 2019 but we will not fall for it”, the editorial said.
“If anybody feels that the CM post is not seat of power or it is not possible to share it, why is everyone across the country after such a non-significant post?”,it asked.
The Sena’s demand that the party should be given chief minister’s post on rotational basis looks unreasonable and illogical on face of it. The BJP has got 105 seats in the just concluded election, while Shiv Sena secured 56. It, therefore, looks very unreasonable for Sena to stake claim for CM’s post even if it is on rotational basis.
Uddhav talked sense yesterday but, one wonders, what changed overnight. Responding to a question on government formation yesterday, Uddhav said, “We will try to get whatever is best possible”. Sena MP, Sanjay Raut, who had earlier voiced his party’s demand for equal share in power, said it was necessary for the party to stay in the BJP alliance in the larger interest of Maharashtra, but without compromising on respect. “Individuals are not important, but the state’s interest is important. Decisions need to be taken in a calm manner.”
After having been the election leader of BJP legislature party, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asserted: “The BJP will form the government. The process of dialogue is underway. Everything will be resolved soon.”
Fadnavis went on record saying: “The BJP-Sena alliance has a clear majority. Besides, the support of independents, the alliance has secured the people’s mandate with 161 out of 288 seats. We are determined to honour that mandate. We do not think there will be any hurdle in providing a stable government.”
One wonders how and why all the sensible talks changed colours. (IPA Service)