By Harihar Swarup
Politics is a weird game; yesterday’s enemies are today’s allies. Nobody thought the Congress and Shiv Sena will come on the same platform. One can give some margin to NCP; the Congress-NCP have been in alliance for so long. The BJP and Shiv Sena follow the same ideology and have been allies for about three decades. One can say their commitment is only to one ideology, that is grabbing power.
Formidable Shiv Sena-BJP alliance had got the majority in the recent elections and they had mandate to rule Maharashtra, but the alliance broke down not on any ideological issue, but Sena’s insistence that it should have the chief minister’s post. This defies logic; why should Sena have CM when the seats secured by BJP are many more in numbers? In the last assembly too, the BJP had its CM.
The BJP leadership was taken for a ride by NCP leader Ajit Pawar, occupying the post of Deputy Chief Minister, letting the saffron party on that he would engineer a split within the NCP and wean away a major chunk of MLAs to support a BJP-NCP government with Devendra Fadnavis as Chief Minister. The BJP fell in the trap. Governor Koshiyari, perhaps, acted irresponsibly when citing the support of Ajit Pawar, the then NCP’s legislature party leader, administered oath of CM to Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar.
As it became clear that Ajit Pawar was acting unilaterally, and did not have support of his uncle and NCP chief, Sharad Pawar, the arithmetic seemed ranged against the BJP, eventually leading to Fadnavis’s resignation. The BJP government at the Centre, too, bypassed process in recommending the revocation of the President’s rule without holding a cabinet meeting.
It was nearly replay of its 2018 Karnataka misadventure, the three-day-old Maharashtra BJP government was forced to admit defeat and bow out of office the moment the Supreme Court prescribed the test of floor strength. The collateral damage is greater this time. The predawn paper work that facilitated the secretive swearing-in ceremony for Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar had dragged three important public offices into unpalatable controversy –– that of Maharashtra governor B S Koshyari, and with him the Prime Minister’s Office and Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Having fallen out with pre-poll partner Shiv Sena and not making headway in wooing Sharad Pawar, BJP turned to his nephew Ajit. But it appears that the BJP gambled on the wrong horse, with Ajit failing to loosen his uncle’s grip over the party. Now that Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have successfully staked claim to form the government with a majority on the floor of the house, other option like assembly dissolution must be off the table for governor Koshyari. The Maharashtra gambit has virtually isolated the BJP.
Fifty-three years after Shiv Sena was founded, a Thackeray was sworn-in as Maharashtra Chief Minister. Sena founder, Bal Thackeray’s son Uddhav assumed the top post as head of the newly-minted Maha Vikas Aghadi (front) of Sena, NCP and Congress at a grand ceremony at Shivaji Park, a location redolent with symbolism for Sena. It was here that the party held its first rally and where its first CM was sworn-in more than two decades ago; Bal Thackeray was also cremated on this very ground. NCP’s Ajit Pawar, who just days ago, had rebelled against the party did not take oath. (IPA Service)