On the day Shiv Sena formed alliance government with Congress and NCP, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has shown the party its place in alliance. Every political enthusiast with interest in political history of Shiv Sena knows- the Congress party created Shiv Sena- to fight Communist parties electorally and aggressively assert Marathi identity of Mumbai. This fact was known to public, but, no Congress leader ever said it publicly.
Finally, Jairam Ramesh said this in public to show Congress its place in the alliance government, and assert Congress’ influence on the incumbent government in Maharashtra. “We were ideological opponents of Shiv Sena but let’s not forget in 1967 it was SK Patil and VP Naik who were responsible in many ways for the creation of Shiv Sena to break the monopoly of the AITUC and the CITU then trade unions of Bombay [Mumbai],” said Jairam Ramesh, at an India Today event in New Delhi.
SK Patil, the veteran Congress leader who dominated Mumbai Congress in 1960 and 70s, and was elected three times as mayor of Mumbai, promoted Shiv Sena to minimize union leaders’ influence in the city. Most of the union leaders were aligned to Communist parties, which was Congress’ biggest enemy in 60s and 70s.
VP Naik, the chief minister of Maharashtra from 1963 until 1975, also supported the rise of Shiv Sena in 1960s and 70s. The party with ‘son of the soil’ plank was used to minimize the influence of Communist parties, and that of Gujarati businessmen, who formed the upper class of the city of Mumbai. The Gujarati business-people were very assertive and wanted the Gujarati culture and identity to be core of city’s culture, despite the fact that Marathi formed the majority of the population of the city.
Shiv Sena, with its son of the soil plan, asserted the Marathi identity of the city, and gave the Marathi people a political voice.
Ramesh also recognized the Shiv Sena’s loyalty to the Congress party on various occasions. “Let’s not forget that in 1980, the first leader to come out in favour of Abdul Rehman Antule as chief minister of Maharashtra was Bal Thackeray. It was Bal Thackeray who broke ranks with NDA to support Pratibha Patil for the president-ship. He broke ranks with the NDA to support Pranab Mukherjee,” said Ramesh.
What is most surprising is the fact that Shiv Sena has been completely silent over the Congress leader’s remark. Shiv Sena is generally considered as a reactionary right-wing party with party’s mouthpiece Saamana publishing Sena’s thoughts and opinions on any and every issue. It may be noted that Sena used to heavily criticise the BJP and Modi government at the centre even when it was in the NDA. Shiv Sena never lost an opportunity to pounce on any issue and hit out at the BJP. However, it is astonishing that the party’s mouthpiece has remained mum on Jairam Ramesh’s comments about the party’s origin. The comments are a clear sign of the days to come where the Congress will be pulling the strings.
The newly formed alliance government has all Congress’ ideological commitments in the Common Minimum Programme, where the alliance partners have commit to uphold the secular values enshrined in the Constitution.
“On the contentious issue of national importance as well as of state importance especially having repercussions/consequences on the secular fabric of the nation, the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress will take a joint view after holding consultations and arriving at a consensus,” added the preamble of CMP.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi (Congress-NCP forced Shiv Sena to remove Shiv from alliance name and replace it with Vikas) government also promised to give 80 per cent reservation to local youth. “A law shall be enacted to ensure 80 per cent reservation in jobs for local/domicile youth,” reads the CMP.
Like any other leftist government, the alliance has promised “Immediate loan waiver” to the farmers. Going through the CMP, one can easily decipher that all the ideological commitments of the Congress and NCP has been fulfilled while that of Shiv Sena has been kept at bay. All that Shiv Sena has got is CM chair, but at the cost of ideology.