Shiv Sena’s Hindutva, Congress’s Secularism and NCP’s Marathi Asmita combination worked in Maharashtra. On the other hand, BJP was waiting for the right time to capture power in Maharashtra because there were speculations that the Sena-INC-NCP led coalition government called Maha Vikas Aghadi won’t last for long. Meanwhile, BMC elections are going to be important for all the Parties. Eyeing on BMC election state politics colludes with various conspiracies and attacks.
BJP has tried its best to provoke Shiv Sainiks by making sensitive statements or evoking Balasaheb Thackeray sentiments. This time it was Uddhav’s Shiv Sena and he beautifully controlled his cadres. Well, there are possibilities of them getting re-elected in 2024 as the Shiv Sena has the strong support of the people of Maharashtra especially in Mumbai and its surrounding areas. They can get re-elected if the Maha Vikas Aghadi government completes its five-year term and if the three major parties, Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress fight the elections together. Shiv Sena would be widely supported by the urban areas of Maharashtra. The NCP also has a large support base in the state. The Congress, though they have become weak, by 2024 will also probably retain their support within the people of Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena should avoid making mistakes like regional parties in other states. They lost their ground because of their arrogance. In Karnataka Deve Gowda who took over power from Ramakrishna Hegde in 1994, became too aggressive and arrogant. The party started diminishing. Now even the top leaders of the party are unable to win an election. Similar is the case in respect of Samajwadi Party, BSP, RJD, RLD, INLD, TDP, CPIM, etc. TMC, and Congress, too are following them in letter and spirit. Shiv Sena needs to shed their arrogance, open doors for people, meeting Uddhav Thackeray is really a tough task whereas Devendra was always available for the public.
BJP leaders might be cunning but they know how to woo their voters. Shiv Sena is losing grip on Shakhas. Shakhas were the main source of connection with the common public. Shiv Sena of Balasaheb era needs an hour. The MLA and MP count might rise in Shiv Sena but on the ground they are hollow. Uddhav needs to have the right approach and availability for the people.
In the meantime, BJP should avoid challenging the Sena-NCP-Congress coalition government using central investigating agencies against them. Somewhere people are losing faith in these agencies and whosoever raided for genuine reasons are also getting benefit as political vendetta. These days such raids are treated as celebrity status. Using frequent pressure tactics may not favour BJP for long.
Leaders of both, the BJP and the Shiv Sena, have made it amply clear that there might be differences between the two parties but they are not enemies. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut has said that they are not like India-Pakistan. We are like Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao. We may have parted ways but our friendship is intact. But these days they are exactly behaving like India and Pakistan. The recurring attacks on each other have curdled the political scenario in the state.
A series of decisions by the Bharatiya Janata Party central leadership in recent days has left former Devendra Fadnavis looking isolated and weakened in a party that once projected him as Maharashtra’s fresh-face, savvy, Gen Next Hindutva leader, with potential for elevation to the national stage. The promotion of Vinod Tawde as BJP general secretary from the position of national secretary, and the nomination of Chandrashekhar Bawankule for the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls, both dislikes of Fadnavis, are being seen as sure signs that the central leadership is clipping the wings of its former poster boy, making his future as the face of the party going into the 2024 elections uncertain. During his term in office, Fadnavis had side-lined Tawde.
Similarly, Bawankule, the former power minister and an OBC strongman in Nagpur, seen as a protégé of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, was also not given a ticket, reportedly costing the BJP at least six seats in the Vidarbha region.
The mistake Fadnavis made was to depend on outsiders for important issues. He relied on one Neeraj Gunde as a mediator to mend the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance. Praveen Darekar, from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, was made Opposition leader in the state council. Prasad Lad who joined BJP from NCP became Fadnavis’s confidante and an all-powerful advisor. A section within the BJP blames these two “outsiders” for “misleading” Fadnavis after the 2019 polls, leading to the collapse of the pre-election alliance with Shiv Sena when the results were announced, and the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition that denied BJP and Fadnavis another term. The next elections are in 2024, still, three more years to go, if BJP retrospect and Shiv Sena tame their attitude, then the state can see much more changing.