With political drama in Maharashtra brewing, this political struggle to form the government will certainly go down in history as a strange anomaly where despite winning the majority, a pre-poll coalition had failed to form the government. Winning a clear majority in the elections BJP-Shiv Sena alliance with its 161 seats in the 288 seat Maharashtra assembly was certainly poised to retain power with CM Devendra Fadnavis continuing for his second term. However, for the Sena, despite being a junior partner in the alliance with just about half (56) the seats compared to its alliance partner the BJP (105), ambitions have pushed the Maharashtra based party to demand a larger cut of the cake.
The Shiv Sena demanded that Aaditya Thackeray, son of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray be made Chief Minister for 2.5 years in a BJP led NDA government. To this, BJP stood firm and held that former CM Devendra Fadnavis shall be CM for all five years if BJP, the single largest party, forms government. Thereafter, Shiv Sena, a right-leaning political party has been pushing to form an alliance with the polar opposite NCP and the Congress. Nonetheless, with the resignation of Shiv Sena MP Arvind Ganpat Sawant from the cabinet, the cycle for a new political equation between the Shiv Sena and the NDA has certainly started.
Furthermore, with weeks past the electoral result, no Party has been successful in clearly claiming the top post, speculations over various permutations and combinations are also ripe. With Shiv Sena struggling to make an alliance and Maharashtra slipping into President rule, one scenario is likely that the BJP and Shiv Sena could come back together after these bitter past few weeks. For the BJP however, this scenario will surely put it at the position of senior partner in the alliance in the state and also give chance to rectify the disproportionate leverage being given to Shiv Sena despite its eroding political capital.
With Shiv Sena having lost its bargaining power after blatantly attempting to dethrone its prepoll ally, the BJP, the BJP could give a tough time to the Sena in case the two are to mend their alliance.
One of the most important areas where BJP might tighten the noose is the allotment of ministerial positions in the state, in a scenario of BJP-Shiv Sena government, BJP is sure to push for all the critical domains more aggressively, further pushing back Shiv Sena’s ambitions. The allotment of ministerial berths in the central Government might also see an effect of these developments, with BJP being expected to cut short Sena’s tenure in Delhi.
This realignment might also translate into a fresh understanding for sharing of top posts, the Shiv Sena had demanded that Aaditya Thackeray, son of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray be made Chief Minister for 2.5 years in a BJP led NDA government. Shiv Sena had also claimed that shared CM office was a pre-poll agreement. However, the BJP stood firm and held that former CM Devendra Fadnavis shall be CM for all five years if BJP, the single largest party, forms government.
Pointing towards the same, Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, had said “I spoke to Amit Shah on the claims of the Sena that there was such an agreement. He said that there was no such agreement.’ In an interview to the run-up to the elections, BJP chief Amit Shah had also pointed towards and said “there has been no decision on this type of formula (referring to shared CM post for 2.5 years each)”. While BJP has evidently rejected these demands and indicated towards being willing to accommodate Aditya Thackeray in the Deputy CM’s post, now situations might emerge where the Shiv Sena might have to compromise on its ambition in this regard too and settle for just ministerial posts.
The Sena has also been a tough ally all through the Lok Sabha elections and the Assembly elections. the party has taken to arm twisting the BJP so that it can remain politically relevant in Maharashtra but more often it has toed a line milder yet similar to that taken by the Congress and other political foes of the BJP. The BJP however, has remained a sleeping giant and also delivered on a generous seat sharing arrangement ahead of the assembly polls.
All that may change now as if a BJP-Sena government is formed, it shall hang by a very thin thread. With new political dynamics post a probable BJP-Shiv Sena ‘reconciliation’, BJP is surely expected to put forward its concerns in this regard and once and for all put an end to theatrical antics of some Shiv Sena leaders. Hence, Sena could be expected to gag itself and be a good ally as this time BJP might launch a counter attack at Sena’s antics.
Majority of voters, mainly the voters of the NDA would sure appreciate such steps against Shiv Sena, which kept the alliance in lump even after securing a clear victory. However, it is to note that Indian political scenarios with respect to alliances and government formation are driven primarily by power politics with a rather infinitesimal intent of settling old scores. Nonetheless, the developments over the past few days have certainly given Shiv Sena a food for thought that if they require leaders like Sanjay Raut who have turned the party into a laughing stock for many. Moreover, even if the Shiv Sena is successful in getting back to the NDA, the damage caused due to the actions of few in Shiv Sena are sure to haunt the party for long.