Shiv Sena: From Roaring to Whimpering

Shiv Sena Election Poster

It has been nineteen days since results for state assembly elections were announced in Maharashtra and the state is still without an elected government. The onus for this state of affairs undoubtedly rests on Shiv Sena (SS) whose credibility has taken a severe beating in their single-minded quest to see the twenty-eight-year-old scion of Thackeray family in Chief Minister’s (CM) chair. Could there be a greater betrayal of late Bala Saheb’s legacy than what SS had done in last two weeks? Shiv Sena which was compared to a tiger since its inception is today whimpering like a puppy and wagging its tail while waiting for Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar to give it a green signal for their support.

SS has been harping on two points mainly. First it claims that people of Maharashtra want to see a Chief Minister from Shiv Sena and secondly that there is an urgent need for providing an honest government to the people of the state in view of farmer crisis and PMC Bank scam. The first point is wishful thinking since it lacks credibility and logic. One wonders which world is SS living in? With less than 20% seats in the state assembly its aspirations for CM’s chair are rather bizarre. If people of Maharashtra wanted a CM from Shiv Sena the party’s win percentage in the seats contested would have been much higher than the measly 44% as against BJP’s over 65%. Additionally, in last few years there has never been any doubt about SS being the junior partner to BJP in the state. The seat sharing formula agreed between the two partners too corroborates this fact.

There can be no two opinions on the need for formation of an elected government in Maharashtra at the earliest for various reasons. But what is worrisome is the deceitful and fake concern shown by SS in this regard in last few days. The only reason the state does not have a government today is because of Sena’s fixation for occupying CM’s chair – a claim that defies all democratic norms and logic. If the party is so concerned about the state, it should have put its greed for power aside and honoured the mandate that voters have given for a BJP led government supported by SS. How can a party that could not display honesty and loyalty to its thirty-year-old partner ever provide an honest government? It is time SS did some introspection to realise how it has let down the voters for selfish motives.

The day Mr Uddhav Thackeray sought support from Congress and NCP, it also went against what SS has stood up for since its inception. The legacy of its founder, a staunch believer in Hindutva, was thrown out of the window and all the claims of Maratha pride came to a nought. SS, and more importantly Mr Uddhav Thackeray, fell in a trap laid by Mr Pawar. First Mr Pawar ensured that the party broke away from BJP (and NDA) to the point of no return. Then Mr Pawar made it clear that NCP’s backing to SS was subject to Congress party deciding to offer support. Mr Uddhav Thackeray’s naivety was exposed when without understanding the situation he stepped down from his high pedestal and called Mrs Sonia Gandhi for her support. Little did he know that seasoned politicians like Mr Pawar or Mrs Gandhi are masters at political games. They have probably forgotten more tricks in this trade than perhaps Uddhav or his other senior leaders like Mr Sanjay Raut have ever learnt in their lives. The end result was that SS delegation that went to meet the governor could only claim ‘in principle’ support of Congress and NCP in absence of any definite letter given by the two parties. It is obvious that only one political party had egg splashed all over its face in this whole episode.

SS blamed the governor for giving it only twenty-four hours instead of seventy-two given to BJP earlier for government formation. Frankly the governor was not wrong in doing so. It is no brainer that from the day results are announced, eligible parties start looking at options for forming a government when there is no clear winner. By the time Governor invited BJP it was obvious that BJP and SS would not be forming the government as partners. It is common knowledge that Shiv Sena had already opened discussions with Congress and NCP even before BJP was invited by the Governor. Surely the Governor too lives in the same world as rest of us, so he and his advisors were well aware of the goings on, both in front and behind the scenes. Those seventy-two hours were as much for SS as for BJP. Therefore, once BJP declined, there was no need for a similar period of time for SS. It would also be fair to assume that the Governor must have been worried about horse trading and therefore the need for a speedy resolution.  Thus, any claim that SS was undone because of lack of time is a very lame excuse. The real reason for SS’s failure was its naivety and their leadership’s failure to see through the machinations of Mr Pawar.

The media has covered these developments to no end over the last two weeks. Surprisingly no one thought of seeking the reaction of MNS chief Raj Thackeray in this whole drama. Without a doubt it would be interesting to see what he has to say about the conduct and approach of SS leadership over the last two weeks and current state of the party.

Politics has lived up to its tag of unpredictability in this whole episode. Given Congress’ hard stance towards SS, the chances of Sena forming a government are very remote. But one cannot rule out the possibility of NCP taking lead and forming a government with assured support of Congress? After all, given the pathetic position that SS has landed in, it may have no option but to support such a move because if there is a re-election in the state, chances are that SS will suffer the most. Whatever be the developments in next few weeks, the only thing that is certain is that Shiv Sena will continue to be the biggest loser and they have only themselves to blame for it. In its quest for that elusive Chief Minister’s chair, the Sena seems to have lost not only its character and ideology but also its tiger’s roar.

Saroj Chadha, an engineering professional, is a successful entrepreneur. Having retired from the Indian Army after having served for over 23 years, he has also been a consultant for leading Indian and Multinational electrical companies. He lives in New Delhi.

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