The state of Maharashtra is witnessing a fresh political crisis. Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde has turned rebel with dozens of other party MLAs. Now, you will be hearing about leaders from Maharashtra including Uddhav Thackeray, Devendra Fadnavis and Sharad Pawar. It would seem as if all the main characters in this dramatic story belong to Maharashtra. Of course, the political crisis is unfolding in Maharashtra. However, there is one more character at play- the Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma in the role of crisis manager.
The Assam link behind Maharashtra political crisis
The rebel Shiv Sena MLAs were holed up at Le Meridien resort in Surat in Gujarat in the aftermath of the Maharashtra political crisis.
Thereafter, Shinde along with other rebel MLAs landed at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport in Assam on Wednesday and drove straight to the Radisson Blu hotel in Guwahati with the protection of state police. Meanwhile, Shinde claimed to enjoy the loyalty of 40 MLAs.
Bacchu Kadu, an independent MLA told India Today, “We will return only after a change in power. No one has been brought in forcibly. Shiv sainiks and independent MLAs wanted a change in power because the NCP and Congress are in power. We don’t have any grouse with Uddhav Thackeray.”
What is practically happening is that the rebel MLAs have chosen a BJP-ruled state as a part of their strategy to go incommunicado with the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance government in Maharashtra, and the government of Himanta Biswa Sarma is acting as their caretaker.
Yes, Gujarat is also a BJP-ruled state. However, Assam is a perfect destination for the rebel lawmakers, because of its distant location away from Maharashtra. In Gujarat, the MVA government could have at least contacted the rebel MLAs which may be impracticable in a state like Assam. More importantly, the CM of Assam is a shrewd politician who knows how to steer through a tricky situation like the one that has built up in Maharashtra. Managing a political crisis like the one brewing in Maharashtra is not new for Himanta, he has managed similar crises in the states of Manipur and Meghalaya.
Himanta reshaping Maharashtra politics
In fact, the ongoing stay of the Sena MLAs in Assam has Himanta written all over it. Consider this, the dissident MLAs were received by Assam BJP MP Pallab Lochan Das and MLA Sushanta Borgohain in Assam which has further triggered speculation of them switching sides to the BJP.
Borgohain, on his part, said, “I came to receive them (Shiv Sena MLAs from Surat, Gujarat). I have not counted how many MLAs have arrived. I came here for personal relations. They have not disclosed any program.” But any average political observer would understand where things could be headed. And then, the MLAs were transported from the airport to the luxurious hotel in three Assam State Transport Corporation buses.
To add to it, tight security arrangements have been made near the hotel. Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma himself checked into the Radisson Blu in Guwahati and his convoy was also seen exiting the hotel early in the morning before the rebel MLAs arrives.
Himanta’s political management skills may therefore be resetting Maharashtra politics. To be precise, the Congress is already crying foul and Assam Congress chief Bhupen Kumar Borah seemed to echo his party’s allegation that Sarma was conspiring to break the Uddhav Thackeray government. At the outset, it may sound strange or even outrageous to say that the CM of Assam is playing any kind of role in the Maharashtra political crisis. However, Sarma seems to have achieved this seemingly impossible feat and his political exploits now seem to go beyond Assam and the Northeast itself.
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