Eminent writer and intellectual Dr. Hiren Gohain share his views on the political crisis that has gripped the state of Maharashtra.
The game of packing needed numbers of legislators into hotels and resorts and engineering unseating of a government in power is quite popular today.
The MVA government in Maharashtra has become the latest losers in this spectacular game.
Soon after the installation of the MVA government people like us had warned that the overcoming of the midnight coup where the President was woken up at midnight to sign his consent to an unseemly and brazenly unprincipled attempt to cobble together a majority to replace the unfledged MVA with a BJP-rebel Shiv Sena joint alliance had been foiled by the courts, and that should have been takena as a dire warning to the leaders of the MVA to keep alert to developments on the ground. We warned that the BJP which had vast resources and still some hold on the police and the bureaucracy would spare no pains to detect and play on inner faultlines of the Shiv Sena and rising discontent in its party ranks from day one. Such fires had to be watched for and doused in time. Apparently Shiv Sena leadership had grown complacent and allowed the ground under their feet to slip and shift.
Eknath Shinde is a senior leader popular with the ranks. He has resented the CM's sidelining him and succeeded in gathering around him as many as 30 odd disaffected Shiv Sena MLAs as well as some independent ones. They have formally addressed the governor of the state stating their rejection of CM Uddhav Thackeray as their leader,leaving him with a rump of 15 MLAs only and rather helpless. The MVA govt is unlikely to survive this crisis. NCP leader Sharad Pawar has expressed his concern at the disastrous failure of intelligence that this sudden turn of events disclosed. But it is unlikely that the rumblings had been inaudible earlier, and should have been heeded and taken care of.
The notion that Uddhav Thackeray's centralisation of all party decision and increasing distance from party ranks is only partly correct since Centralisation started from the times of Bal Thackeray's leadership when he chose to rule 'by remote control' and directed Uddhav to tighten up the party structure and start centralisation of decision. It was only Bal Thackeray's role in organizing the party through agitations and rallies and the contacts he had developed through these processes that sustained his unchallenged sway as well as popularity with party ranks. Since Uddhav had not acquired such charisma he should have managed the party with more care mending and patching rifts with greater alacrity.
But when all is said and done the searchlight is on the BJP as the most unprincipled, unscrupulous and single-minded in its pursuit of absolute power.Any party that chooses to form an alliance with it gets sooner or later its wings clipped and its stature diminished. So the rebel Shiv Sena faction is bound to taste the same bitter fruit in times to come. Shinde with thirty odd MLAs in the tow first sought shelter in the BJP-ruled Gujarat and then was later flown to remote BJP-ruled Assam. They were welcomed at airport by BJP rulers and put up at the Redison Blue hotel in Guwahati. There is no doubt that there had been discussions on the details of plans to share power.It is unlikely that there was no plan to act in combination however hard the rebels deny it.
The rebel leader claims that his faction represents the true Shiv Sena with its ideology of militant Hindutva,which Uddhav allegedly diluted. He also holds that only BJP is the natural ally of the Shiv Sena and Congress and the NCP were gatecrashers.
But had ideology been the actual root of disaffection, it would have broken out at the time of the formation of the MVA government itself.
More likely it had been gradual erosion of power and shrinkage of the profits of office that fed the discontent. The BJP's use of its power to unleash the ED that finds corruption in every party in opposition might have clinched matters. Sanjay Raut and Anil Deshmukh's incessant railing against BJP leaders has obviously sharpened such retaliatory strikes.
Any anti-BJP alliance is likely in future to come up against similar headwinds. To survive such inclement weather such an alliance must constantly be in alert to detect and overcome such rifts within each party and take great care not to encroach on each other's turf. They must also watch out for and meet any subversion from outside. They must keep in mind that the BJP is in a much better position to pose threats to their existence and must form their strategy accordingly.