The Shiv Sena has been in power in Maharashtra since 2019. It secured the chief minister’s post for itself after backstabbing the Bharatiya Janata Party and allying with parties like the Congress and NCP. The next elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly will be held in 2024, and the BJP is quite confident of sweeping those polls. Sensing an opportunity, Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM has proposed to strengthen the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ government of Maharashtra? How so, you might ask? Well, the AIMIM wants to be a part of the MVA coalition.
Suggesting an alliance with the ruling Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress in Maharashtra, AIMIM MP Imtiaz Jaleel has said that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) can become a “comfortable car” from the three-wheeled autorickshaw which can prevent the BJP from coming to power. It must be remembered that the AIMIM is referred to as a “vote-katua” party by non-BJP forces in India since it tends to split the Muslim vote in crucial elections.
Shiv Sena Reject’s Owaisi’s Offer
The Shiv Sena’s image as a pro-Hindutva party has taken a massive beating in the past three years that it has been in power in Maharashtra with the Congress and NCP. Now, with two years left for the next assembly elections, the Shiv Sena is looking to rebuild its image as Maharashtra’s saffron party, which is why it has rejected the AIMIM’s offer.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut rubbished the possibility of allying with AIMIM, saying that merely thinking of such an alliance with AIMIM is equivalent to a disease. He added, “How can we have an alliance with a party which kneels and bows in front of the grave of Aurangzeb? Don’t even think about it. Thinking of it is akin to a disease. Shiv Sena follows the ideals of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and will do so in the future as well.”
Shiv Sena leader and MLC Ambadas Danve said that there is no question of allying with a party that opposes singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ and “runs on the thinking of Razakars”.
NCP Accepts Owaisi’s Offer
The “Nationalist Congress Party” was quick to accept the AIMIM’s offer to join the MVA coalition. Lok Sabha MP and senior NCP leader Supriya Sule said on Saturday that it would be good if like-minded parties decided to unite in the interest of the state.
She said, “If everyone wants to work together on political issues and if like-minded parties come together, then it is a good thing. For the sake of development, for work, all should come together for the good of the state. It is a good thing. It will also be a good thing for any state.”
The Shiv Sena, since coming to power, wanted to be seen as a ‘secular’ party. That was until Hindus in Maharashtra did not begin rallying behind the BJP in hordes. Now, the Shiv Sena realises this tenure could be its last if it does not give up its fascination with pro-Islamist secularism. Therefore, by rejecting Owaisi’s offer to join the MVA, the Shiv Sena is conveying to the public that it wants nothing to do with the Islamist party.
The Shiv Sena wants to regain its ‘Hindutvawadi’ credentials. However, it might be too late for the party to attempt a course correction. Hindus of Maharashtra have seen first-hand how the MVA government has used state machinery to silence its critics, apart from giving a free pass to its sympathisers on practically all counts.
Meanwhile, as the Shiv Sena attempts to recreate an image for itself as being a party for the Hindus, its alliance partners might start feeling the pinch soon enough. The Congress and NCP depend on Muslim voters of Maharashtra, and if Shiv Sena grows too vocal about Hindutva again, they might just decide to dump it to avoid being ground between the BJP and Shiv Sena as collateral.