Ever since the results of the Maharashtra election came out, the political happenings across the state have flummoxed even the most experienced political commentators. In a fresh twist, Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut met former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis which have sent rumour mills abuzz with speculations of a possible reconciliation between the Shiv Sena and the BJP – something which would be absolutely unacceptable to the core constituency of the BJP voter base.
In a significant development, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut met BJP leader and former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis at an upscale hotel in Mumbai. The meeting which is believed to have lasted around 2 hours has sparked the possibility of a reunion between the estranged allies.
BJP leader Pravin Darekar claimed that Raut wanted to interview Fadnavis in the lieu of the upcoming Bihar elections for Shiv Sena’s propaganda outlet, Saamna.
“No political motives should be ascribed to the meeting. Fadnavis has said he will give the interview to Raut after the Bihar elections,” said Darekar.
However, Maharashtra BJP Chief Chandrakant Patil was diplomatic in his response as he said, “Meetings happen between politicians, can’t speculate anything.”
The state’s political circles found it difficult to digest that Raut met with Fadnavis for 2 hours to ask for an exclusive interview. BJP Maharashtra spokesperson Keshav Upadhye claimed that since Fadnavis wanted to the interview to be aired unedited, the duo took time to discuss the modalities of the exclusive interview — which appears to be a smokescreen.
Sanjay Raut who has assumed the role of his party’s chief motormouth, has alienated both the BJP and its voter base with his crass statements. Every student of Maharashtra politics knows that the Shiv Sena is run by Milind Navrekar and Sanjay Raut. The fact that Raut who has severely criticised the BJP at the first opportunity available met Fadnavis raises the possibility that Maharashtra’s political scenario is set to take another turn into the unknown.
Importantly, in a break from his previous statements, Raut clarified that there’s no enmity between him and Fadnavis. Commenting on the meeting, Raut said, “He (Fadnavis) is a former CM. Also, he’s the leader of opposition in Maharashtra & Bihar Polls-in charge of BJP. There can be ideological differences but we are not enemies. CM was aware about our meeting.”
This might prove to be a case of the Shiv Sena attempting to leverage its previous equation with BJP as the duo used to be traditional allies before Uddhav Thackeray’s lust for power destroyed the alliance.
The party might be attempting to send a message to its newest allies: NCP and INC that the Shiv Sena can still go back to BJP and form the government in case of any backstabbing by the NCP and Congress.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi is under extreme pressure as from the Palghar Sadhu lynching investigation to Sushant Singh Rajput, to Kangana Ranaut and finally, the beating up of a retired naval officer for sharing a cartoon, the ruling alliance keeps on running into hot water due to the Shiv Sena.
The fact that Maharashtra continues to be the worst-performing state in India when it comes to battling the virus, with no end in sight, Uddhav’s popularity has dipped majorly, which would perhaps prompt the NCP and Congress to make a change in the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s chair.
Political commentator Hemant Desai echoed a similar sentiment as he said, “No one will just meet to discuss an interview. This seems more of a message by the Shiv Sena to its allies Congress-NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) that it still shares good relationship with the BJP.”
The Shiv Sena is preparing for life after the Maha Vikas Aghadi as the fate of the ruling dispensation is a bygone conclusion. In all likelihood, the news of the meeting would have been leaked to the media by the Shiv Sena itself as no secret political meeting takes place in an upscale Mumba hotel. The Shiv Sena is attempting to send a message to the NCP and Congress and simultaneously, keeping the BJP warm. The state BJP would be well advised to stay away from the sinking boat that Shiv Sena is or else face the wrath of its own voter base for whom the Shiv Sena has become untouchable.