By Sushil Kutty
‘Fluid’ is the word that best describes the Maharashtra political situation with two old flames suddenly discovering that they cannot live apart, that the once live-in relationship ought to be rejuvenated just so that everybody and not just themselves could live happily ever after.
And ex-chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is the villain, alliance-buster as well as alliance-fixer. “We were never enemies. They were our friends and people whom they fought against, they formed a government together with them and they left us. There are no ifs and buts in politics. Decisions are taken as per prevailing situations,” Fadnavis told a news outlet in his roundabout manner.
So, is there a BJP-Sena reunion? Can the BJP and the Shiv Sena reignite ties? There’s a possibility, say some folks. Cracks have developed in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance, and relations between Shiv Sena and the BJP are on the mend.
The fact remains that the NCP supremo, Sharad Pawar, was forced to dismiss reports of a rift; proof that something had gone amiss in the MVA; that the coalition partners were under some sort of strain, which required a reaffirmation of faith.
At least one of the three MVA partners had broken the vow of fidelity. Could it be the Shiv Sena, the only votary of ‘Hindutva’ in the MVA and, therefore, natural ally of the Hindutva hankering Bharatiya Janata Party?
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut defended his party, saying that the “more such rumours spread, the stronger” the coalition (MVA) government will become. If so, what should be made up of Devendra Fadnavis’s remarks? Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Fadnavis wouldn’t be shooting off his mouth if there wasn’t some truth to what he was speaking about.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena are definitely up to something and the MVA is hurting. The BJP has 105 seats in the Maharashtra Assembly, and the Shiv Sena has 56. Together they can form a government. The Shiv Sena might even agree if there’s a weighty quid pro quo.
The rules of “power-sharing” was what came in the way in the first place between the Shiv Sena and the BJP. Both parties bickered over which party should get the Chief Minister-ship.
Ultimately, the Congress and NCP agreed to blood Uddhav Thackeray and since then Uddhav Thackeray had given the impression that he was more than happy with the alliance, and quite content to allow the ideologically opposite Sharad Pawar to lead him along.
So, what happened, what went amiss? Why is the Shiv Sena giving the impression that it’s ready to jump the MVA merchant ship and board the BJP’s destroyer? Raut says BJP and Shiv Sena are not like India and Pakistan, more like Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao, both of whom have parted ways, but with “friendship intact”.
Fadnavis has reciprocated with similar sentiments. But then, to take another Aamir Khan analogy, Khan and first wife Reena Dutta never came together again! And even if the circumstances governing the MVA have changed in recent weeks, the fact remains that Sharad Pawar so far hasn’t sounded the alarm.
If there was a threat to the alliance, Pawar would have said so, especially when he is trying his best to stitch an alliance to take on the BJP and the Modi-Shah combine in 2024. The break-up of the MVA wouldn’t read well with that script, will it?
True, the BJP wants to realign with the Shiv Sena, but why should the MVA splinter now, when it did not after la affaire Anil Deshmukh and Sachin Vaze / Param Bir Singh, and why split to make Fadnavis the Chief Minister? Fadnavis wasn’t the best CM Maharashtra ever had, was he?
If any party should feel dissatisfied with the MVA arrangement, it should be the Congress, for the alleged “step-motherly treatment” meted out to the Congress. The Congress has even said that it will contest the next elections “alone”. Maharashtra Congress unit chief Nana Patole said he was ready to be the CM face of the Congress.
The fact of the matter is things aren’t hunky-dory in the MVA. Narendra Modi and Uddhav Thackeray had a one-on-one on June 8 and since then there’s been doubts galore. Besides, Raut has been playing his mind games and there’s talk that Fadnavis will join the Modi Government leaving Uddhav Thackeray to run a Shiv Sena-BJP Maharashtra Government. All in the realm of speculation, no doubt. But then, these are the days of the coronavirus and the coronavirus behaves rather strangely, quite like alliances do. (IPA Service)