With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) playing a masterstroke by offering Eknath Shinde the Chief Minister post, the Shiv Sena’s (SS) imbroglio has more than worsened. The SS seems to be losing its foundation. Balasaheb Thackeray’s, so to say, original SS is on the brink of collapse. The whole experiment of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government seems to have worked against the interests of SS.
It was beyond the common man’s imagination, that the impossible would become possible, when the Congress (INC) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) came together and formed the government in Maharashtra along with their ideologically opposite party, Shiv Sena (SS) in 2019. The common man kept on wondering as to how would these two parties cope up with the Hindu ideology which the SS then proudly owned. Barely two and a half years later, the experiment stands failed.
Did the SS really had the idea of ditching the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) if it does not get enough number of seats to form the government in 2019? Or was it only an after-thought? Was it a well-conceived idea or was it mere opportunism? These questions would not have any authentic answers as such topics are never discussed openly in the public. However, the turn of events then, gives enough grounds to infer that the SS changed sides only extempore and at the instinct of the moment and there was no pre-conceived plan or a road map to go about in the situation which arose post the 2019 Assembly elections.
Shielding themselves behind a, so-to-say, promise given by Amit Shah (the then BJP President) in a one-to-one closed door meeting with the SS Chief Uddav Thackeray, the SS leadership demanded Chief Minister’s post (for two and a half years i.e. 50-50 sharing basis). SS chief or Sanjay Raut (the SS spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP) never came to the table to discuss the issue and sort it out. Devendra Fadnavis, the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, made all out efforts to get SS on the table but in vain.
Sanjay Raut was at ease to do all the running and take all the efforts to get the INC and the NCP on board. NCP chief Sharad Pawar, known for his political acumen, did the rest and practically ‘installed’ the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. Sharad Pawar, for political reasons, convinced SS chief Uddhav Thackeray to head the government as Chief Minister. It was, however, very clear that such an alliance with diverse and diagonally opposite ideologies would not thrive long. With Uddhav Thackeray’s resignation, curtains are drawn on the MVA experiment.
The question to ponder upon is who gained the most and who lost the most? Clearly, it was the INC who gained the most. The INC was fourth in the order in terms of number of seats and in furthest of the dreams, would not have imagined to be a part of the government. This gave them an un-asked-for opportunity to revive the party and instill new confidence in the cadre. However, the INC joined the government at the cost of tarnishing its image of a party with ‘secular’ credentials.
NCP remained a cunning spectator to Uddhav Thackeray’s deeds and tried to milk most of the benefits to the advantage of the party. Keeping major ministerial berths with itself, the NCP tried to foster party’s individual goals. The NCP, which has never been able to win an absolute majority anytime in the past, had nothing to lose in the deal.
The SS, on the other hand, lost the most. What is it that the SS lost? Here it is.
• The image of being a Hindutva oriented party was lost. The party cadres were not able to digest party chief not saying anything on issues related to Hindus or not saying things in a way which is harsh enough to suit the image of the party.
• It was never imagined that the SS party chief would go to the doors of Sonia Gandhi and seek her nod or the like on any matters. This was in stark contrast with the SS founder Balasaheb Thackeray’s views on aligning with the INC in any way whatsoever. The pictures showing Uddhav Thackeray meeting Sonia Gandhi disturbed the party workers who felt betrayed.
• The advent of Corona and Uddhav’s ill-health worsened the matters. Lack of past experience along with inability to quickly cope up with the work culture and hard work (that is required), nothing but exposed Uddhav Thackeray. These lacunae have tarnished Uddhav’s personal image the most.
• All through the two and a half years of reign, there appeared to be no control of the Chief Minister over matters of the government. Things did not move at all. This perception, now deep-rooted, in the minds of the people would harm the SS in a big way. With three ministers in the custody, this government earned a great disrepute in a short span of time. Loose handling of the matters has clearly put the SS at a great disadvantage.
• The inaccessibility of Uddhav Thackeray to people within and outside the government was depictive of lack of ability to communicate and maintain healthy interpersonal relationship with the people at large. The disconnect was so much that many of the SS MLAs quietly moved out of Mumbai to Surat and later to Guwahati from right under the nose of Uddhav Thackeray without his knowledge!
With all these factors, the SS led by Uddhav Thackeray is sure to lose its sheen. Much will depend on the moves of Eknath Shinde who is now the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The fight is expected to begin with Eknath Shinde claiming to be the ‘real’ SS and also claiming the right on the SS election symbol of the bow and arrow. If Shinde wins the fight, the SS under Uddhav Thackeray would cease to exist at all. All said and done, the solution to the SS (Uddhav Thackeray) imbroglio does not seem to be in sight. A party which ruled the hearts of a section of Maharashtra’s population seems to be losing ground to its own tactics which were played to assume power in 2019!