By Sushil Kutty
Lest we get confused over non-sequiturs, we’ll not talk about Mahatma Gandhi and ‘gram swaraj’ and ‘panchayat’ and blah blahblah… Instead we’ll speak of panchayat elections, the latest example of which is sure-shot ray of hope for the combined opposition arrayed against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA): Narendra Modi and his sidekick Amit Shah, who carries a hefty wallop, can be defeated, flattened, if all opposition political parties get into a tight embrace and shoot the feet from under the ‘BhaktonKa Alliance.’
In Maharashtra, the tight embrace is called the MahaVikasAghadi (MVA) and it’s been throwing its weight around in Shivaji’s land for over a year now, ever since Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray cut cord and chord from Hindutva and Bharatiya Janata Party and tied his wagon to the secular train of Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Sonia Gandhi’s Congress with Rahul Gandhi calling the shots for the Congress though Uddhav makes the most noise in the MVA in his soft-spoken manner.
So, the MVA led by Uddhav Thackeray (Sharad Pawar?) trounced Modi’s BJP in Maharashtra’s panchayat elections and poll pundits consider that precursor to a coup de-tat in the 2024 General Elections or in other elections (assembly) here and there in between. The moot point is, the formula to defeat Modi is now more or less concocted. There is strength in unity. Bunched fingers make a fist!
And if you’re superstitious, believe in jinxes, don’t go for the cohesive ‘Mahagathbandhan’ moniker, which has been tried and tested and failed at the husting many times over; instead, plumb for the adhesive MahaVikasAghadi, in which ‘Maha’ stands for Maharashtra but can substitute for ‘Grand,’ too. The long and short of it is, the MahaVikasAghadi floored BJP in the Maharashtra panchayat elections and the KO-ed BJP is wondering what hit it in the solar plexus – a tight upper cut to the chin!
A total of 14,234 out of the 29,700 panchayats of Maharashtra’s 34 districts voted on January 15. The BJP won the most number of panchayats – 3,300+ – but the combined figure of the MVA totalled the BJP, leaving it gasping on the arena mat. But different publications are rolling out different conflicting figures and that shows the Press is divided and should get into grand alliance and at least agree on certain common figures! God save the Indian media, they’re getting as morally and unethically fixated as the American mainstream media.
Forget that, under such deliberately confused circumstances, perception is what matters and the perception says the MVA has beaten BJP to a pulp and there’s nothing to laugh about it even if the effervescent Ramdas Athavale tries to grab attention in his sing-song voice, claiming his party RPI won 3000 seats! The fact is the panchayat elections were conducted by the Maharashtra State Election Commission and there’s a deficit of results there. But all considered, it’s also a fact that combined together, the three MVA constituents together won the Big Lotto!
The numbers are imprecise. Candidates cannot use official party symbols. So, parties make exaggerated claims. But it’s telling that the BJP has been defeated in the native village of its state unit president Chandrakant Patil and in Union minister Raosaheb Danve’s village, too. Appears like Uddhav Thackeray has the ‘Rurales’ in his tent, the farmers and their ilk. Does this also mean that the farmers’ agitation left an abiding impact in the Maharashtra panchayats? If yes, that should give Narendra Modi sleepless nights and Amit Shah hair-loss!
And, another conclusion, who said the MVA was going three separate different ways? The signal that’s coming is the three constituents are working like clockwork, all three hands of the timepiece going tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock in perfect animation, such that even the cock-a-doodles are no longer alarming. People have woken up and if any party has been left taking a nap, it’s you know which! And by the way how the Hindutva have fallen? In just a matter of a year, and a couple of measly months!
And where’s that bright boy of the BJP, ex-CM Devendra Fadnavis? A ‘rookie Chief Minister’ is showing the BJP’s ‘future’ that the present is what matters, the ‘ab’ and ‘yahan.’ The significance of the panchayat is that the panchayat is the ‘grassroots’ and if the grassroots is with the MVA then 75% of the war is won. All that remains is the few skirmishes in the urban landscape and those can go any which way. Just follow Shivaji Maharaj’s tactics and any wall can be scaled as Aurangzeb would have testified.
At least now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah should admit that ‘arrogance’ cooked BJP’s goose in Maharashtra. And by the way, why did the BJP think the Shiv Sena shouldn’t play dirty? Everybody knows politics is pure poison, you swallow it and you don’t and cannot complain if the throat/neck turns black and blue. And why the fixation with ‘Lord Ram’, leave him be; for a change, think of ‘Lord Shiva,’ sometimes. Now that the MahaVikasAghadi and Uddhav Thackeray seem to have caught Lord Shiva’s attention, that too is too late for Gujarati duo!
And this, the great results for MVA, comes shortly after Sena mouthpiece Saamana praised Rahul Gandhi and called him a ‘warrior’ for standing up to the Centre’s highhandedness. The editorial which must have been written by none other than executive editor and Sena’s Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut says those in power are petrified of Rahul Gandhi and, therefore, the Modi Government’s anti-Rahul campaigns. The editorial must have been written on Thackeray’s orders and shows that Uddhav has matured in the 14 months since he chose to be politician and Chief Minister. The soft voice does not betray the tough determination. Devendra Fadnavis should get that lean look! (IPA Service)