I have read that if an Administrator makes a mistake, it is a New Law. If an Educationist makes a mistake, it is a New Principle. If a Scientist makes a mistake, it is a New Invention. If a Tailor makes a mistake, it is a New Fashion. And if Parents make a mistake, it is a New Baby.
If so, what would you call if a Politician makes a mistake? I would say a Disaster. A disaster for himself and his party in a Democracy of the kind we have in our country.
I am ruminating on the decision of our Election Commission (EC) on the question of who is the legal owner of the name and symbol of the Shiv Sena that got split — one as Shiv Sena Shinde (the present Chief Minister of Maharashtra) and another as Shiv Sena Uddhav Thackeray (former CM).
The decision went in favour of the Shinde group and the loser Uddhav Thackeray was furious. He has lost a legacy of his father Bal Thackeray, the Founder-Supremo of Shiv Sena, in losing the original name of his political party and also the symbol to his once comrade-in-arms Eknath Shinde. He was crestfallen in front of his Shiv Sainiks, as its cadre is known. Where would he hide his face? At Supreme Court, of course. He sought a stay on the EC’s decision. Failed. The case was listed on 21.2.2023 to be heard today (22.2.2023) at 3.30 pm.
The political developments in Maharashtra after the 2019 elections to the Assembly that led to an unholy alliance of Shiv Sena with Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Sonia Gandhi’s Congress led to the formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) with Uddhav Thackeray of Shiv Sena as the Chief Minister. The events leading to this most unexpected and unnatural political arrangement by Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena is reported by media in detail and I would not like to inflict a repetition here.
Uddhav Thackeray is known as an ace photographer but as an inheritor of his famous father’s political legacy, he proved a poor politician. A political party stands firmly only on ideology, principles and loyalty. If these inalienable values of a political party are compromised for the sake of power, then the party is bound to collapse. The Founder of Shiv Sena Balasaheb Thackeray was a Hindu nationalist and a vehement critic of the Indira Congress and the successive Congress Governments. That was the strength of Shiv Sena and it gradually relegated the Congress to the background in Maharashtra politics.
In the meanwhile, Sharad Pawar, who had alienated himself (rather got himself ejected) from the Sonia Congress for reasons we all know, became a force to reckon with in Maharashtra politics as the Chief of NCP.
When Balasaheb passed away on 17th November, 2012, the mantle of the legacy fell on Bal Thackeray’s son Uddhav Thackeray, more as an inheritance than as an able leader; even though there was his cousin Raj Thackeray to claim the legacy with his oratorial skills and elan as a leader. In retrospect, it could be said that probably if Raj Thackeray was heading the Shiv Sena, the party would not have come to grief in this rather pathetic manner.
In Democracy, it is always the numbers that matter for capturing power. Those who have less numbers should bide their time, not rush to the doorsteps of those who were the sworn enemies to form new alliance to capture power — to become Chief Minister. The general perception among the commoners seems to be that Uddhav Thackeray was taken for a ride by two of his Maharashtrian “well-wishers” from the State hoping to keep the BJP out of power. But soon the unholy, unprincipled alliance collapsed, BJP has come back to power as alliance partner and Uddhav Thackeray and his Shiv Sena are facing an existential threat of political extinction. The world loves the winner. The loser is an orphan.
Uddhav Thackeray is a confused man today, like King Lear in Shakespeare’s play, with a misplaced sense of understanding the human sentiment, unable to recognise the true well-wishers and loyalists from the pretenders. Uddhav was the captain of the ship called Shiv Sena. Now, he has lost both the captaincy and the ship. Now where are his alliance, MVA, partners? Leave alone his Chief Ministership, they could not even help save his ship!
Like the fall of the ‘Holy Roman Empire,’ that was neither holy nor Roman, the fall of Bal Thackeray’s Shiv Sena happened because of its unholy alliance with NCP and the Sonia Congress with an audacious name Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). You shake hands with the devil only to have your hand incinerated.
If only Uddhav Thackeray had the political wisdom to tolerate the BJP for a while rather than rush to teach a lesson to BJP instead, Uddhav Thackeray would have been the Chief Minister in the second half of the five-year term of office as per the pre-poll understanding.
History is replete with instances where power never came to a person ‘here and now.’ That happens to a person only in a monarchy as a divine right. But in Democracy, the dynastic rule is possible only if the inheritor of power is an able leader admired and accepted by the people. Look at the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty after Rajiv Gandhi, for example.
An ocean lost cannot be redeemed. Can a political party built over many decades, now lost to the dynasty, be redeemed in the next election? A difficult question to answer.
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