By Sushil Kutty
Uddhav Thackeray, Chief Minister for 5 years, says Shiv Sena gadfly and Thackeray confidante Sanjay Raut, speaking for Uddhav Thackeray, and possibly for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, iterates Raut, has a “political message” for the state BJP Opposition but also to the constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). The Saamna editor with a penchant for opening his mouth when required by Uddhav Thackeray, says that it’s just a rumour and nothing else that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will be replaced midway through his five year term.
“When the alliance formed the government, a commitment was given and it was decided that Uddhav Thackeray will be CM for 5 years. If someone talks about this now, then it is nothing but rumour,” Raut said, scotching the “rumour”, and doubts if there are any in anybody’s mind. The message especially goes to the alliance partners, the NCP of Sharad Pawar and the Congress of Sonia Gandhi. With that, Uddhav Thackeray has also let it be known that he’s no longer the greenhorn CM he was taken to be at the beginning of his term.
In fact, Uddhav Thackeray has matured as a politician and as an administrator in the time he has been Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Some would even say he has been tested through fire and has emerged largely unscathed. The covid-19 pandemic has especially been harsh on Maharashtra with the state consistently posting the highest number of infections and deaths.
It’s only now when the deadly 2nd Covid wave is petering down that Maharashtra has stepped out of the abyss. And being at the helm does give Uddhav Thackeray something to brag about, remind people that there was no chief ministerial sharing agreement with the NCP and the Congress. Also confirming that Uddhav Thackeray’s one-on-one 30 minute meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not without meaning and purpose.
It did give rise to speculation, and now there’s no doubt that there was method in the meeting. It has sent a signal that if push comes to shove, the Shiv Sena could head right back to the BJP, and a new arrangement that will ape the old arrangement between the BJP and the Shiv Sena. Was there a message in it for Devendra Fadnavis, too? Maybe yes, at the current time, after West Bengal and the Covid 2nd wave, Narendra Modi and the BJP could do with as many friends as could be wooed.
Doesn’t matter if Sharad Pawar had to remind Uddhav Thackeray of Balasaheb Thackeray’s history of honouring the “given word” and sticking with allies no matter what transpired. Raut in his “Roktok” Saamna column scotched speculation that the Maha Vikas Aghadi was divided over the CM’s post. That was a thorn with Fadnavis, and Fadnavis has been rather quiet these last several weeks.
Also, Raut played Uddhav Thackeray’s meeting with Modi to the fullest effect. He spoke of the “political message” hidden in the meeting, both to the Opposition (Fadnavis) and to the MVA alliance partners. Raut mentioned the alacrity with which PM Modi gave Thackeray the appointment, spelling it out to everybody wanting to know that Uddhav Thackeray and Modi shared a “special” bond.
The Modi-Thackeray one-on-one also sent the message home that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was keen to do anything and everything for the people of Maharashtra, talk with anyone, even those who were thought to be not very friendly. The Modi-Thackeray meeting apparently shocked Fadnavis and his acolytes in the BJP, they were left staring into space.
Sanjay Raut later emphasized to all and sundry that Uddhav Thackeray will complete his 5-year term come hell or high water. It’s a message to Devendra Fadnavis that he will remain Leader of Opposition in the Maha Assembly. The ex-chief Minister must be in shock, he must not have expected such a masterstroke from a novice like Uddhav Thackeray. Life like they say is full of surprises and Devendra Fadnavis is today wiser for that.
Don’t forget the BJP was gunning for the Maha Vikas Aghadi government with the CBI and other central probe alphabet soups. At one time it even looked like the BJP wanted to poach Shiv Sena MLAs. But to form Government, the BJP would need the entire Shiv Sena brood, a few MLAs wouldn’t suffice. It looks like the BJP is reconciled to the MVA Government. A beaten Modi and Amit Shah cannot fight the fast changing political equations post the drubbing in West Bengal and cannot afford to keep cribbing about the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government. (IPA Service)