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Sena insecure about BJP being Big Brother in Maharashtra?

Nowadays rumours have sparked about Shiv Sena pondering to call off alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); anyways the break up will not affect the latter. BJP has always tried to cater Shiv Sena’s demands but the latter has always concocted needless objection. In the last one to one-and-a-half years, it has become a habit of Sena to oppose developmental works, and stop the Chief Minister’s works despite being a part of the alliance. All the MLAs of Sena those working under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis are happy with government’s functioning, they will not hesitate to join BJP than continue with Sena which is on the verge of getting distorted in state. If Sena ditches the alliance, a huge number of its MLA`s will join hands with BJP. On the other hand, Maharashtra government has already welcomed the recently resigned Congress leader Narayan Rane.

BJP is playing it brilliant, they approached NCP Supreme Pawar and also tried to offer ministerial berth to his daughter and Narayan Rane, the old timer of Sena may join BJP. So all grassroots level Maharashtra leaders are coming under the umbrella of BJP. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena is losing its own leaders and elected MLAs because of their impractical approach. The party has already begun its muscle flexing and is behaving as if it is in the opposition.

Sena needs to realise that, gone are the days when Vajpayee was happy being a junior partner to Balasaheb Thackeray in Maharashtra. Ever since Modi took over, the party wants 100 per cent control. But even after intensely fighting the Assembly polls against each other in 2014, Shiv Sena had to join the BJP government led by Devendra Fadnavis. After the 2014 Vidhan Sabha elections, Sena did not join the Fadnavis government immediately. Influenced by the Modi wave and the growing charts of the BJP, there were buzzes that some Shiv Sena MLAs were in touch with the BJP. Out of power and with no signs of immediate relief, Uddhav would have found it difficult to keep the flock of 63 MLAs together.

Congress has always been the number one enemy of Shiv Sena and Balasaheb Thackeray. Sena has grown by attacking Congress policies. For years altogether, right from the time Shiv Sena-BJP alliance began, the former always tried to be the elder brother. Their leader, then Balasaheb Thackeray, had an upper hand over Maharashtra politics, than its alliance partner BJP, though not better than what Congress and NCP managed to. Shiv Sena still lives in those days and is in a state of denial that BJP is very much stronger than them. They don’t even accept that their party is in this position today because of the Modi wave and their alliance. Otherwise, it is not even a state party, but a municipal party, which has minimal reach beyond Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

If we closely notice, present Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership has been dared by its own voters of the state, Uddhav do not have that grip that Balasaheb had. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s giant strides in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls was another example to prove how Sena is losing its hold. After the death of Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray in 2012, Uddhav gained complete control of the party. However, he managed to gain success in the Assembly polls with 63 MLAs, as BJP had snapped ties at the last minute. Despite the Modi wave, Uddhav managed to get his MLAs elected, emphasising his leadership skills or sympathy votes of Balasaheb. Since they came to power, the approach of Uddhav changed drastically and gradually he is hedging towards political suicide. If not BJP then Uddhav has only one option, but that also he had earlier refused to join hands with MNS, so it’s up to both cousins to iron out their differences. As both the cousins have their egos and differences which will never settle because of women behind these two men. There are gossips that the Sena-MNS politics is decided most of the time in their kitchens.

Anyways, Uddhav Thackeray is now doing what every ‘2nd ranker’ student will do. Call the ‘1st ranker’ a bad person, cheater, make allegations and waffle nonsense. His statements have nothing to do with governance or any real issue for that matter. He is just getting personal against a rival, whom he couldn’t take down politically. Such ill-advised statements however are nothing to be worried about, as no one listens to him except for his own supporters. He thinks he can replace Balasaheb, he forgets two things – Uddhav is not Balasaheb and Amit Shah is not Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The alliance won 1996 Maharashtra legislative assembly elections. Shiv Sena’s Manohar Joshi was elected the CM and BJP’s Gopinath Munde as the Deputy CM. The NDA govt of 1996–1999 was the same as the UPA govt of 2004–2014, in the sense that, as Sonia Gandhi remote controlled the UPA government, Balasaheb remote controlled the NDA government. Further, when NDA lost in 1999, and then again in 2004 and 2009, BJP remained the younger brother in the alliance, with Shiv Sena dominating the opposition alliance. Important decisions of the alliance took place at Matoshree, where BJP leader Pramod Mahajan used to visit to discuss matters. Time has changed. Leaders have changed. Sena lives under the illusion that it could still be the elder brother. BJP showed Sena its real place, by not only winning the elections with twice as much seats, but also by not giving the position of Deputy CM to Sena, a position which remains vacant till date. 2017 Legislative Assembly Elections were also swept by BJP. The cherry on the top was UP, with BJP gaining 78 per cent seats. Shiv Sena couldn’t simply digest BJP’s victory. Sena is afraid to see that its chair of Maharashtra dominance has become rickety. It cannot make demands or order its alliance partner anymore. However, for a party which has long been used to this status, it is impossible to accept this fact that it no longer can demand that respect that it earlier used to.

For two years it has threatened BJP, that they will collapse the Maharashtra State govt by withdrawing support, but it hasn’t had the guts to do so. And now after BMC elections, even the hollow threats have stopped, now that BJP supports its government in the civic body. If they were genuine, they could have simply moved out, took the support of NCP and Congress, and made BJP sit in the opposition. Also, they can manage with support of Congress in BMC. Shiv Sena insiders are sure that they will not continue in the government for a full 5 years, but this is not the right time to give up, they feel.

Uddhav’s boycott is a clear signal of his unhappiness. Headlines of his party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ are even clearer. It attacks almost every BJP leader from Amit Shah to Modi almost every day. The Shiv Sena is clearly scratchy in an alliance with a now-expansionist BJP. Still, it will continue to be a part of the government for some more time. Sena has been out of power for 15 long years. That power is also a source of income for political parties, is an open secret. For a small regional party like Sena, it’s necessary to recharge itself before locking horns with a mighty BJP for upcoming time.

But, despite the differences, both need each other for the time being. The Sena does not want to leave the government right now — it will calculate when a parting suits it best. The BJP needs the Sena even more — though the Fadnavis government will not fall immediately if the Sena withdraws, the BJP will have to depend on Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, which would demolish the BJP’s claim of being against corruption. Maharashtra is not a state the BJP wants to let go of, especially as there are massive infrastructure projects in the offing in Mumbai. The Sena knows that the BJP needs it more than it needs the BJP and consequently loses no opportunity to push it around.

(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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