Sunday, September 24, 2023

End of strange bedfellows

After being outfoxed at every turn by his nemsis- BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis- Uddhav Thackeray who led the Maha Vikas Aghadi(MVA)government, is now pushed to the brink of political ignominy as he finds his late father’s Shiv Sena party now in the hands of rebel leader and now chief minister Eknath Shinde. The BJP and Shiv Sena combined had together won required majority to form the government in 2019 in Maharastra. However, for whatever reasons or for whoever succeeded in planting seeds of ambition into the Shiv Sena, the party joined hands with the most unthinkable of parties such as NCP and Congress, the sworn enemies of Hindutvawadis. Right since the cross voting in the Legislative Council elections on June 20, where Shiv Sena MLAs cross voted for BJP against Congress nominee of the MVA, the sign was large and clear that BJP was hand in glove with rebel leader Shinde. Then rebel leader Shinde was able to hold meetings with rebel MLAs without being noticed by Uddhav and the MVA government. Even after media broke the news, Shinde managed to rope in more MLAs, albeit with some help from BJP, to be spirited away to a hotel in Surat. Uddhav intentionally or not, moved out of the chief minister’s official house on June 23 and thereby signalling that he has given up hope or accepted defeat. He tried emotional appeal to Sena rebels but it was too little too late. Sena rebels congregated at Surat where the BJP government deployed hundreds of state police security around the hotel. From there Sena MLAs were shifted to Guwahati where the BJP government provided them with heavy police security around Radisson Blu hotel. Numbers in the rebel camp at Guwahati increased on a daily basis as more flew from Mumbai. With nearly 40 MLAs out of 55 Shinde and BJP made the claim before a friendly governor. The Shinde-BJP government was sworn in on July 3 and in an unusual manner, the friendly governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari present him with a bouquet of flowers. It was also unusual that Devendra Fadnavis leader of the 106 strong BJP accepted the number two position of deputy chief minister as against Shinde who was sworn-in as chief minister despite having only 39 MLAs. The BJP knows how to manage contradictions unlike other parties. By making Shinde as chief minister, BJP ensured that the Sena rebellion was legitimised and Shiv Sainiks accept the reunited a hardcore Hindutva coalition. Maharashtra was just chugging along on its way to prove that Uddhav’s tamed and soft Hindutva and NCP and Congress could govern despite conflicting ideologies, until Uddhav misread the writing on the wall. The Shinde-Fadnavis coalition will easily pass the floor test and that will be the icing on the cake. Henceforth, it can be expected that both the NCP and Congress would also be shaken by dissidence. This will put BJP in the saddle as the power behind the collation throne. In addition, BJP can also take a serious look at files of NCP or Congress leaders in erstwhile MVA coalition and do what it does best.

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