On Monday when Shiv Sena walked out of the National Democratic Alliance and went to the Maharashtra Governor to stake its claim to form a government, it had no letter of support in hand - neither from the Nationalist Congress Party, nor from the Congress. All that the leaders had were mere words of assurance from leaders of these two parties.
Understandably, the Governor refused to give the Shiv Sena more time to cobble up a coalition, and instead, asked the third largest party, NCP, to explore ways of government formation. The situation is still fluid as the Congress high command continues to dither, grappling with doubts.
I think it was Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s ’putramoha’ (blind affection for son) that did the party in. Uddhav wanted to see his son Aaditya Thackeray anointed as chief minister, by hook or by crook – for two and a half years (with the BJP), or for two and a half months, or even for two and a half days. During the recent assembly polls, Uddhav had gone to town telling voters that it was his father Balasaheb Thackeray’s last wish to see a member of the family become the chief minister of Maharashtra. Gone were the days when Balasaheb used to publicly boast about carrying a ‘remote’ to guide the likes of Manohar Joshi as chief minister.
It was because of this ‘blind affection’ for his son that Uddhav walked out of an alliance with BJP that had continued for 25 consecutive years in Maharashra, from 1989 till 2014, and later during the recent assembly polls. Both the Shiv Sena and BJP had campaigned across Maharashtra during last month’s elections, denouncing both the NCP and Congress.
On Monday, Uddhav Thackeray had to suffer the humiliation of going to meet NCP supremo Sharad Pawar to seek his party’s support, at a hotel in Mumbai, and had to telephonically request Congress President Sonia Gandhi seeking her party’s support.
Uddhav agreed to do all that the prospective partners wanted him to do. His party walked out of the NDA and his minister Arvind Sawant at the Centre tendered his resignation. At the hotel, Sharad Pawar offered him tea, but no letter of support. Sharad Pawar is a seasoned politician. He always plans ten steps ahead before giving any commitment.
On Monday night, there was this strange spectacle of Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar and his associates being invited by the Governor to explore ways of forming a government. Till Monday evening, Shiv Sena was claiming support of NCP, and by night, it was Shiv Sena which was being asked to think about offering support to NCP. The roulette of Maharashtra politics has now taken a 180-degree turn.
The issue is not of morality, but lust for power. The BJP cannot blame the Shiv Sena on the issue of morality. It was only last month that the BJP had formed a coalition government in Haryana with Dushyant Chautala’s party. The Congress, too, cannot claim a higher pedestal, because it had formed a government in Karnataka last year with Devegowda’s Janata Dal(S), but the alliance came unstuck.
The main reason behind Congress’ refusal to endorse the Shiv Sena-led coalition government was that senior party leaders were apprehensive about losing support of Muslim voters in the event of forging an alliance with the Shiv Sena. These leaders were openly speaking about possible repercussions among Muslim voters in Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
The biggest loser was, of course, the Shiv Sena, and its leader Uddhav Thackeray. In Hindi, there is a saying: ‘Duvidha mein dou gaye, Maya mili na Ram’. (In confusion, you lose both – materially and spiritually)
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