Ever since the announcement of assembly poll results in Maharashtra, BJP’s ally Shiv Sena has been vociferously demanding the 50:50 formula. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party is seeking an equal number of cabinet berths, and an equal tenure for a Chief Minister of its choice. In a clear attempt to pressurise the BJP to give in to its demands, Shiv Sena’s Diwakar Raote met the Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari separately from Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. This could be seen as subtle signalling on the Shiv Sena’s part.
As a part of its attempt to somehow get the BJP into agreeing with the 50:50 formula, Shiv Sena MP and party spokesperson, Sanjay Raut went on to draw a comparison between the political situation in Haryana with that in Maharashtra. Raut said that government formation got delayed in Maharashtra because “there is no Dushyant [Chautala] here whose father is in jail.” With this he tried to suggest that there is a difference in the political situation of Haryana and Maharashtra where elections took place at the same time. He added, “Here [Maharashtra] it’s us [Shiv Sena] who do politics of dharma and satya, Sharad [Pawar] ji who created an environment against the BJP and Congress who will never go with BJP.”
It is important to mention here that by trying to bring out the difference in Haryana’s post poll situation where Dushyant Chautala-led JJP emerged as the kingmaker, Raut wanted to hint that the BJP doesn’t have the luxury of looking elsewhere in Maharashtra and will have to bend in to Shiv Sena’s demands. He also said, “We believe in the alliance (with BJP) as we contested the polls jointly. But the BJP should not compel us to commit the sin of looking for an alternative for government formation.” By committing a “sin” he obviously meant aligning with the NCP and the Congress. It must be noted here that the Congress has given clear indications of its willingness to align with the Shiv Sena. The Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly, Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar even went on to say, “The mandate for the Congress is to perform the role of opposition. But to stop the BJP, we need to come together. Shiv Sena has to come forward. The Sena should come forward for an alternative arrangement as the popular mandate was against the BJP.”
In the above circumstances, Raut’s remark was clearly made with the intention of giving a subtle hint to the BJP that the Uddhav Thackrey-led party has the option of looking at alternatives and unlike Haryana, the BJP does not have any Dushyant Chautala-like kingmaker to rely upon in the state of Maharashtra. The idea was to corner the BJP so that it would succumb to Shiv Sena’s demands. However, the move seems to have backfired as the JJP chief, Dushyant Chautala has hit back at the Shiv Sena over Raut’s remarks. The JJP supremo said, “It means he knows who Dushyant Chautala is. My father has been in jail for six years, he [Raut] never asked about his well being. Ajay Chautala Ji will not come out without completing his term. Such statements don’t add to Sanjay Ji’s stature.” He also said, “His party [Shiv Sena] has been associated with BJP for long. Our party was formed 11 months ago. It is not our intention to fight with others, or use politics of intimidation and threats. We want to implement honest politics for the next 5 years.” Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala also made it clear that government formation in Maharashtra is an internal matter of the BJP.
What Chautala’s statement has done is that it has exposed Shiv Sena’s opportunistic brand of politics. The BJP is clearly the bigger coalition partner in Maharashtra with 105 seats as opposed to Shiv Sena’s 56. Notwithstanding a clear mandate in favour of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, the Uddhav Thackrey-led party remains adamant on the 50:50 formula. It has now even started creating undue pressure on the BJP by threatening that it can commit the “sin” of looking at alternatives. While Dushyant Chautala respected the people’s mandate in Haryana by joining hands with the BJP so that a popular government could be formed, Shiv Sena’s absurd demands and tactics of intimidation and threats are unnecessarily delaying government formation in the state. It’s true that there is no Dushyant Chautala in the state and that is why Shiv Sena was supposed to play the role of a reliable ally to the BJP given its ideological similarity and long association with the BJP. However, the Uddhav Thackrey-led party has clearly failed to play its part when it comes to government formation in Maharashtra.