The politics of Maharashtra has become very interesting since the declaration of result of the recent Assembly polls in the state. The people of Maharashtra have given a very clear verdict, in favor of Maha Yuti (BJP-Shiv Sena alliance) with 161 seats out of 288. To form government, 145 seats are needed and the alliance has a clear majority in the state.
The parties fought the election in alliance with Devendra Fadnavis as the Chief Ministerial face. But, in order to grab the CM chair for Thackeray family scion- Aditya, the party turned its back to alliance. Shiv Sena has been demanding the CM chair for half term (2.5 years) despite the fact that the party won 56 seats at strike below 50 percent (it won 56 out of 124). BJP, which won 105 seats and had around 70 percent strike rate (it won 105 out of 152), is not ready to give up on the CM chair.
Amid this tussle over power sharing, the opposition- Congress and NCP, is playing its card very tactically. On one hand Sharad Pawar is saying the people have given them verdict to sit in opposition while on the other his party leaders have made statement that they are ready to support Shiv Sena if they walk out of NDA.
“Nothing like it if the BJP gives Shiv Sena chief minister’s post. But if the BJP is refusing, an alternative can be given. But the Sena should declare it is no longer associated with the BJP and NDA. Alternative can be provided after that,” said NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik.
With the diktat to leave NDA, NCP is preparing burial ground for Shiv Sena. The majority of the voters who backed Maha Yuti are ardently anti-Congress and anti-NCP. They were fed up with the corrupt regime of Congress-NCP which ruled the state for 15 years before Modi led BJP defeated them in 2014.
Once Shiv Sena leaves NDA and goes with the Congress-NCP alliance to form the government and take the CM chair; the people of Maharashtra will not give a single seat to the party in next election. The 5 decade old party, nurtured by Bal Thackeray’s hardcore Hindu stance, will collapse if Uddav Thackeray makes the mistake to join the corrupt NCP.
As long as Bal Thackeray was at the helm of party affair, Hindutva and anti-Congressism was ideological core of Shiv Sena. But, under Uddhav Thackeray, the only ideology of Shiv Sena is to remain in power through whatever means.
The performance of Shiv Sena in 2019 was very poor compared to previous assembly election. In the 2014 assembly election, Shiv Sena performed exceptionally well in Western Maharashtra, the traditional stronghold of NCP.
The party won 12 seats in Western Maharashtra in 2014, but, the tally was reduced to 5 in 2019 elections. The overall vote percentage of the party also declined from 19.35 percent to 16.4 percent.
NCP is keen to destroy Shiv Sena because it is major threat to NCP. The voter base of BJP is in coastal and Northern areas, and this vote base has remained loyal to BJP. But, the party has never been very strong in Western Maharashtra- the bastion of Pawars. Shiv Sena has the ability to challenge NCP in Western Maharashtra given the fact it is seen as traditional Maratha party and, a non-corrupt alternative to NCP.
But, once the party allies with NCP, it will no longer have high moral ground on corruption issue. Given the master strategist that Sharad Pawar is, he will make sure that Shiv Sena is buried.
With the advisors like Sanjay Raut at the helm of party affairs, Shiv Sena is making one mistake after another in its greed for power. Raut has been the editor of Sena mouthpiece Saamana and had been a part of Uddhav Thackeray’s inner coterie. Perhaps Raut’s views were not very influential when Bal Thackeray was around, however, today, the Sena stands in a precarious situation post Bal Thackeray’s demise and Sanjay Raut has firmly established himself as the most prominent influencer in the Sena core team.
Congress and NCP might be weak in the state by numbers but its political leaders like Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel to name a few have the capability to take down Shiv Sena from inside once it comes under their fold. Sena should try to look at the bigger picture. One the party walks out of NDA and allies with Congress-NCP, the party will have no future in the state politics.