Sanjay Raut, the vociferous Shiv Sena spokesperson who hits the headlines almost daily is increasingly being seen as a person who more than his own party, is vouching for the NCP and Pawar’s clan, giving subtle indications via his editorials in Saamana that the most capable and respectable leader to now take charge of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is the NCP patriarch – Sharad Pawar. Of course, after outrage by the Congress, Sanjay Raut has now clarified that he did not directly suggest that Pawar should be made the UPA Chairperson, although the subtle essence of his editorial was abundantly clear for all.
The Chairperson of the UPA is a post currently held by interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi. As is known, during the UPA rule from 2004 to 2014, the country was run by Sonia Gandhi and her coterie, instead of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet. The editorial by Sanjay Raut in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece comes after there was an upswing of chatter suggesting that Sharad Pawar could soon take over as the UPA chairperson, replacing Sonia Gandhi.
As a member of the Shiv Sena, Sanjay Raut should have instinctively vouched for Uddhav Thackeray to be chosen as the next leader of the UPA. Uddhav Thackeray, who is the current Sena supremo and Maharashtra Chief Minister will obviously want to grow his clout nationally, especially after his backstabbing of the BJP, which has made the saffron party go hostile against its former Hindutva ally. Yet, Sanjay Raut, instead of standing by Uddhav Thackeray, is increasingly being seen doing Sharad Pawar and the NCP’s bidding.
This begs the question: is Sanjay Raut scripting a political coup against Uddhav Thackeray? If not a coup, an attempt to discredit Uddhav Thackeray and his flimsy leadership indeed seem to be underway within the Shiv Sena, and Sanjay Raut appears to be at the forefront of the same. It must be remembered that Uddhav Thackeray, due to supposed political compulsions, could not accommodate Sanjay Raut’s brother Sunil Raut in his cabinet, which had purportedly infuriated the Sena spokesperson, even if he did not say it aloud in as many words.
Could this be Sanjay Raut’s moment of getting back at Uddhav Thackeray? By building a consensus via his editorials within Maharashtra, and the country at large, Sanjay Raut seems to be working overtime to please Sharad Pawar and consequently, to undermine Uddhav Thackeray. Moreover, by discrediting Uddhav Thackeray and destroying the Shiv Sena from within, Sanjay Raut will be able to facilitate the growth of NCP in Maharashtra.
Once the NCP eats into Shiv Sena’s spheres of influence, the erstwhile Hindutva party can be unceremoniously kicked out of the Maha Vikas Aghadi. It has already been established that the NCP is open-minded about an alliance with the BJP and that the same cannot be ruled out in the near future as well. By rooting for the NCP and Pawar to take the leadership role within the NCP, however, Sanjay Raut is looing to shut down avenues of a possible merger between the MVA constituent and the BJP. A classic case of killing two birds with one shot.