The alliance governments are always interesting to watch for journalists, media personals, and political analysts. In the last few years, the politics of the country became boring with almost every state as well as the central government having a stable majority government. However, the state of Karnataka gave fodder to political analysts and conspiracy theorists, when a JD(S)-Congress alliance government came to power. But, after a few months, legislators from both broke away to join BJP, which made a majority government, after the by-election, under the leadership of Yediyurappa.
In the present political scenario of the country, three big states- Bihar, Haryana, and Maharashtra- have alliance government, but, the other two except Maharashtra have a very stable coalition, and are not in news for political churn.
The only state with an alliance government witnessing unprecedented political churn is Maharashtra, where a very unlikely alliance was formed between the ‘secular’ parties and Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena to keep BJP out of power.
The three-party alliance, the opposition led by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, and Raj Thackeray led MNS, are constantly making space in 24*7 news cycle for some political statement or activity. The CM Uddhav Thackeray is in news for his constant flip-flop on Union government’s policy decisions like CAA, NRC, and NPR, as well as the party, struggle to keep itself relevant among Hindutva supporters. On the other hand, Raj Thackeray is in news for the party’s changed stance on Hindutva issue, change of flag colour, and Hindu nationalist rhetoric in the speeches.
The Raj Thackeray aggressive Hindutva has made both Shiv Sena and Sharad Pawar uncomfortable. Fearing the rise of MNS, Uddhav Thackeray has said that the Maharashtra government will implement CAA and NRC, as well as announced his visit to Ayodhaya, which he had earlier discarded under the pressure of ‘secular allies’.
As Uddhav has responded with a desperate reaction to Raj Thackeray’s rise, Sharad Pawar, the NCP supremo, has been forced to react to but he has reacted differently given his ‘secular’ party credentials. Discarding the popularity of Raj Thackeray’s anti-illegal immigrant rallies, Sharad Pawar said, “(There is) no need to take everything seriously. People who matter to the overall politics of the state need to be taken seriously.” He tried to downplay the political allegiances of the huge crowd at Raj Thackeray’s anti-illegal immigrant rallies and his rhetoric by saying “if such speeches are made, it is just entertainment.”
Few days after Pawar’s statement, the MNS karyakartas started search operation for illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Pune, considered the bastion of Pawar family and Maratha politics, in order to teach a lesson to NCP patriarch. The MNS party workers were accompanied by a few police officers and looked for identity card of the people in areas where huge number of illegal Bangladeshi migrants are suspected to be living. They also find few people with dual voter IDs.
A few weeks ago, the MNS had come out in open support of PM Narendra Modi and his government’s plans to evict illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators from the country. In line with this, the MNS has now put up posters in Panvel area of Raigad district. Reading, ‘Bangladeshis leave the country lest you will be driven out in MNS style’, the posters bear pictures of MNS chief Raj Thackeray and his son Amit, who recently made his debut in politics. The posters have a saffron backdrop to them as well.
It is clear that Raj Thackeray is most powerful threat to alliance government, as he is disturbing the politics of Shiv Sena as well as that of NCP.
Raj Thackeray is a legitimate inheritor of Bal Thackeray’s politics in terms of personality, political oratory, and almost every other political trait. He delivers speeches in the same fashion; chants the same slogans; is a great crowd puller.
On the other hand, Uddhav Thackeray has none of the traits of a popular politician, and therefore he is playing second fiddle to Pawar family members, despite contributing the maximum number of seats in the alliance. He has been made the titular head of state, a de jure leader, put on the chair only to sign on the decisions taken by alliance partners. The plight of Shiv Sena could be witnessed in the portfolio distribution of ministries, where all the significant posts went to NCP.
Raj Thackeray would benefit at the cost of Shiv Sena if he deploys his strategy carefully, as the voter base of both parties is the same. BJP, on the other hand, would find another partner in Maharashtra, which it could call a natural ally, given the ideological similarity. If the parties decided to join hands, both of them will benefit at the cost of Shiv Sena.