A day after Maharashtra’s minority affairs minister and senior NCP leader Nawab Malik announced 5 per cent quota for the Muslim community of the state, the Shiv Sena leaders denied any such decision by the tri-party alliance government.
After Malik’s announcement, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad strongly condemned the decision and tweeted, “News of the Maharashtra government’s decision to grant religion-based reservation to Muslims is worrisome. The appeasement of Muslims should not be done by a government led by the Shiv Sena. This is the Hindu society’s expectation”, to which Shiv Sena’s communication cell replied, “No such subject is under discussion.”
महाराष्ट्र सरकार द्वारा मुसलमानों को धर्माधारित आरक्षण की खबरें चिन्ताजनक हैं। शिवसेना के नेतृत्व वाली सरकार द्वारा मुस्लिम तुष्टीकरण की राजनीति नहीं की जानी चाहिए। यही हिन्दू समाज की अपेक्षा है : @MParandeVHP
— Vishva Hindu Parishad -VHP (@VHPDigital) February 29, 2020
Previously Malik had said that “We will try to give reservation to Muslims in education by the end of this (assembly) session. We will try to give 5 per cent reservation.”
If introduced, the 5 per cent Muslim quota will take the total reservation in Maharashtra to a new level, as the state already has above 60 per cent quota in jobs and educational institutions after the introduction of Maratha quota.
The stark differences and disagreements between the two parties is evident from their conflicting messaging on this matter and it reflects the deepening fissures in the alliance as well as the inefficiency of the government.
There is near zero compatibility in the ideological positions of NCP and Shiv Sena, but the party allied with the secular forces in order to grab the CM chair.
It has been almost two months after the tri-party alliance came to power and since then they have not been able to take a single big decision, except stopping the critical infrastructure projects started by Fadnavis government, like Hyperloop and Bullet train project.
The two major partners- NCP and Shiv Sena- have disagreements over many decisions like CAA/NRC/NPR, Bhima Koregaon case, and now the quota to Muslims.
Previously the Uddhav Thackeray government decided to go ahead with the construction of detention centre while NCP is against deportation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.
In the Bhima-Koregaon case, after the Uddhav Thackeray govt decided to handover the case to NIA, the central government investigation agency, the NCP, which controls the home ministry, decided to launch a parallel probe of the case.
The NCP and Congress are against the Modi government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act and opposed the updated National Population Register exercise, but, the Uddhav Thackeray led Maharashtra government decided to go ahead with the exercise.
Sharad Pawar, the NCP Supremo, called for a meeting of all the NCP ministers after CM Uddhav Thackeray overruled their will and decided to go ahead with NPR.
There is no ideological compatibility in NCP and Shiv Sena; and therefore, while the bosses of the party allied, but the lower level leadership of these parties are still against each other, given their competition for more than four decades.
The competitive enmity of four decades could not be wiped out in few months just because bosses of both parties decided to come together; as witnessed in Uttar Pradesh too when SP and BSP allied but their lower-rung fought each other, verbally and physically.
The Shiv Sena and NCP are finding it very difficult to go together due to ideological differences over various issues as well as over the willingness to exercise authority. On almost every issue, Uddhav Thackeray wants to show that he is the real boss of the alliance government and is willing to exercise the authority as chief minister but shrewd Sharad Pawar reminds him of his place by opposing the decision taken by Thackeray.
It is important to mention here that till now, the Shiv Sena was sparring only with the Congress over the manner in which the grand old party was repeatedly insulting Veer Savarkar- the larger than life Hindutva icon. However, rifts between Shiv Sena and the Congress were not such a huge matter of concern, as the NCP- the real party in control of the alliance was able to reconcile all such matters.
When the Congress and the Shiv Sena were fighting over the legacy of Veer Savarkar, the NCP led by Sharad Pawar, who seems like the one in real control of the alliance, played peacemaker.
But there is no one who can placate the rising tensions and divisions between the NCP and the Shiv Sena now. Therefore, it is only likely that things keep getting worse from here as far as the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance is concerned. Even as Uddhav Thackeray locks horns directly with Sharad Pawar, it seems like the beginning of the end for the ruling coalition.