When we talk about egoism in politics, it has played a significant role in demolishing good opportunities. The same happened with Nitish Kumar who embraced opportunism over opportunity owing to ambitions that were nurtured on his ego. Perhaps he wanted to be the PM of a front against PM Modi and so he broke ties with the BJP. His opportunistic foray with Laloo was based on the same ego that was central to his polity that time. When RJD started threatening his hold over Bihar, he finally came around. This realization was timely and it not only saved his political fortunes but also salvaged the state of Bihar in terms of governance and development.
Maharashtra’s political landscape is emerging as an example of how a self attained ego can destroy years of goodwill obtained by forefathers. Shiv Sena was seemingly good when Bal Thackeray was alive to guide it to its supreme glory. His demise and the emergence of BJP as the principal pole in the state politics has transformed Sena into a cry baby. More importantly, relinquishing its role as a big brother was too much for the Sena to take.
The alliance based on ideological leanings has transformed itself into a mere association of convenience. And the wounded ego of the Sena has come out in the open not once but many times now. Uddhav Thackeray has been firing barbs through his conduit MP Sanjay Raut and mouthpiece Samna. Both together have questioned BJP, its policies and have criticized the Modi Shah combine as always. From fostering a healthy relationship at the time of Mahajan and Thackeray senior, the relationship has strained beyond measure. Uddhav Thackeray with his usual diatribes has tried to rock the relations while even making a retort that Sena ministers carry resignation letters in their pockets.
Nevertheless, this time around he made the boldest comment of them all by daring BJP to go for mid term polls. During the time of Bal Thackeray, such thunderous retorts had value and would send shockwaves across corridors of power. Now they have just become irritating jibes which perhaps may never be taken seriously. In the hindsight, if mid term elections in the state are actually held, there are five reasons as to why the Sena will be a big loser.
Firstly, if we compare all the segments and layers of power in the state, the Sena is struggling to find ground. When a direct head on contest was held between the Sena and the BJP, BJP is consistently showing an upper hand in due process. Be it the Lok Sabha, assembly or municipal elections, the loss of the Congress and the NCP is BJP’s gain. The Sena has failed to capitalize on the same and the BJP slowly is encroaching in their bastions to grow at their expense. The organizational structure and cadre is becoming stronger with respect to BJP and the Sena is completely caught unawares with respect to the same.
Secondly, the mood on the ground is fiercely pro BJP. This can be reflected by the recently held gram panchayat elections in the state. The results have demonstrated that the surge of BJP from the cities is even moving towards the rural areas. Such was the magnitude of their win, that the combined numbers of Sena, Congress and the NCP were just making it half the seats of the BJP.
Of the 3,489 gram panchayats, results in 2,974 were announced. BJP nominees were elected in 1,457 panchayat samitis as sarpanch, followed by Congress (301), Shiv Sena (222) and NCP (194).
These gram panchayats are spread over 18 districts in Marathwada, Vidarbha and North Maharashtra regions. Barring Parali in Beed district of Marathwada where the NCP and Buldhana district in Vidarbha where the Congress retained its hold, the BJP registered a phenomenal show. It captured the cream of gram panchayats and pocketed sarpanch positions which were the first direct elections in the state.
Thirdly, if mid term polls are held, BJP may capture the assembly but that may also set the stage for the BMC. Sena has retained BMC owing to the support of the BJP. If polls are held and BJP gets a simple majority, BMC too may see early elections. If the Sena loses BMC, it will lose its foundations, its nucleus of power and that may render Sena powerless in lieu with political scheme of things. BMC is the richest corporation in the country and losing that will break the spine of Sena power structure in the state.
Fourthly, early elections may convince the people of the state to vote for BJP and usher in a stable govt. Maharashtra is ready for a single party rule and the state has seen the benefits of it in Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh. As the era of coalitions is depleting, the people of Maharashtra may vote for stability. Another aspect to it is the resignation of Narayan Rane from Congress to float his own party which is expected to support the NDA. This will eventually help BJP to sweep Konkan which may somehow hamper Sena’s applecart in the region.
Lastly, Uddhav Thackeray may dare for snap polls but there is a huge possibility of his own party facing unprecedented crisis for the same. In order to prevent loss of power, Sena ministers may defect and this is a big headache for the regional outfit. Suresh Prabhu who was at the receiving end of the Sena was taken in the wings by the Modi govt. Taking a leaf out of the same, Sena ministers who are now a part of the Fadnavis govt may disagree to have fresh polls to lose power and so they may defect. Even if the Sena chief may chest thump that they are carrying resignation letters in the pocket, the ground reality is certainly different. The cadre or the ministers may not be prepared for snap polls and this aspect is too pricey for the Sena to ignore.
As Uddhav Thackeray urged the BJP to go for snap polls with verbal attacks, BJP quietly consolidated itself in the state by decimating every party in the gram panchayat elections. From being a junior partner to the Sena, it has capitulated itself to lead the state.
The Sena needed a two prong introspection to bolster its fagging prospects in Maharashtra. It firstly needs to cement its ties with the BJP like the JD (U) and secondly it needs to strengthen its organizational structure at the grassroots especially in the rural areas. It’s important to note that all regional players had to bite the dust owing to its arrogant posturing. If Sena doesn’t mend its ways, we may have another regional party perishing in the midst of new emerging Indian polity.