Unholy Alliance
Columns, In Black & White

Unholy Alliance

November 16, 2019

One has to ask, what use is a pre-poll alliance if the partners cannot deliver a Government even after the people have given them the mandate? 

It is said Politics is the art of possibilities, but Shiv Sena and BJP have shown the art of irresponsibility. They have left Maharashtra, a State that makes up for nearly 17% of the country’s industrial output, 12% of India’s GDP and 32% of India’s tax collection in Limbo. And Why? Because, reportedly a doting father wants his 29-year-old son, a first time MLA, to be the CM.

It is ironic that the patriarch of Shiv Sena, Bal Thackeray, in an interview, when asked about Rahul Gandhi had said, “He was born yesterday and wants to be Prime Minister today. Is the PM’s post up for auction?” And here we are, 8 years since that interview, his grandson trying the same! 

Like the saying goes, when two parties fight, a third will make merry and so it’s time for ‘Pawar-play’ in Maharashtra. And Sharad Pawar knows how to play politics. More importantly, he knows the art of sneaking into the Chief Minister’s chair. He has done it four times and never with single party majority! 

Back in 1978, Congress was split into Congress (U) led by Pawar’s Mentor Yashwantrao Chavan and Congress (I) led by Indira Gandhi. They fought the election separately but when Janata Party was just short of majority, the ‘U’ and ‘I’ became ‘Bhai-Bhai’ and formed the Government. But just months later, Pawar took his loyalists and walked out of the coalition and formed a new coalition with Janata Party. He did this because he was made the CM. He was just 38 then! 

Pawar again went back to Congress and Rajiv Gandhi made him the CM of Maharashtra by removing the sitting CM in the hope that Pawar would stop the rise of Shiv Sena. 

He didn’t. In the following election Congress didn’t get majority but managed to get support of 12 independents and again Pawar became the CM a third time. 

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Then in 1993, Mumbai riots broke out when Sharad Pawar was the Defence Minister. He was sent to his home State to help Sudhakarrao Naik, CM of Maharashtra, to handle the Mumbai riots. According to Naik, Pawar did not help as he wanted Naik to fail. If this is true, it worked.  Naik was asked to resign and P. V. Narasimha Rao asked Pawar to serve again as Chief Minister of the State for the 4th time! 

Pawar is a shrewd politician, and like most politicians, he will say what he wants. In 2014, he hinted that he would retire from politics and was praised for doing so. But the same year he returned to the Rajya Sabha. Pawar likes Power very much. 

That is why Congress and Sonia Gandhi are wary of him, of course Gandhis are wary of anyone who is not a Gandhi but even Bal Thackeray of Shiv Sena did not have kind words for Pawar. 

Bal Thackeray and Sharad Pawar were supposedly friends but Thackeray, when asked if he would join Sharad Pawar, said, “If politics is considered to be a game of scoundrels, it is for a man to decide whether he wants to be a gentleman or a scoundrel. If anyone wants to become a scoundrel, okay. But I will not go with a scoundrel, whoever he maybe.” 

As for Congress, Bal Thackeray had no affection for the Party or the Gandhis. In fact when Rahul Gandhi made the call,   ‘Mumbai for all Indians’ Bal Thackeray wrote, “Mumbai may belong to all Indians but how can it belong to an Italian mummy.” He had also said that he would rather hand over power to the British, who at least have had the experience of ruling the country for 150 years, rather than Sonia Gandhi. The Congress in turn mocked Bal Thackeray saying he is a “tiger that needs 150 security men around him to roar.” 

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Bal Thackeray also said the country has no future under this “Eunuch Rule” of Congress referring to the Congress leaders’ subservience to Sonia Gandhi. The present Chief of Shiv Sena, Uddhav Thackeray has repeated this statement. Meanwhile, Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh called the Shiv Sena                                  ‘A Desi Taliban.’

So this is the history of these three parties. They also speak in multiple tongues. Sharad Pawar said people have given him the mandate to sit in the Opposition so he will do just that. Now he says he wants to form a Government. Just a year ago, he said he might give outside support to BJP. Later he said BJP and Sena are old partners and will eventually get back together!

The Congress, on the other hand, says BJP is communal, but now wants to form a Government with Shiv Sena who up until last month were obsessed with Ram Mandir. They now want to form a Government with a party they called ‘Desi Taliban,’ a party that has not only been communal but also violent towards non-Marathis. 

It is said your enemy’s enemy is your friend, but sometimes this could also bring your end. Now, If this trio fails, BJP may have a good chance in the re-election. Is that why BJP did not negotiate with Shiv Sena? Who knows, there is more arithmetic in politics than in mathematics. 

For now, these three parties and their leaders, who have a bitter history, personal distrust and dislike, have come together to form an “ideologically-opposed threesome”. But let us hope the joy of keeping BJP out is sweet enough to keep them together for 5 years. Or they may end up being a ‘gruesome-threesome’ for Maharashtra’s future.

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4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Unholy Alliance”

  1. Betrayal of the mandate has been the bane of Maharashtra politics

    The Shiv Sena overplayed its hand in Maharashtra, and a fresh poll seems the best course now
    The political drama in Maharashtra that continued unabated since the Assembly election results on October 24 has been brought to an end, albeit temporarily, by the imposition of President’s rule. The Maharashtra verdict was unambiguous and in favour of the BJP-Shiv Sena pre-poll alliance, but the partners could not agree on the terms of power sharing, leading to prolonged haggling between them. The Sena’s claim for the Chief Minister’s post initially appeared to be brinkmanship to extract a hard bargain with the BJP but it tripped over its greed and intrigues. The Sena is the BJP’s oldest ally and both are bound by a competitive adherence to Hindutva. The Sena’s claim was also not justified by the verdict — it got 56 seats of the 288, while the BJP won nearly double that figure. The BJP, ensconced at the Centre and ever willing to use power to constrain its adversaries, did not relent. The Sena overplayed its hand by parting with the BJP and quitting the Union government. It miscalculated the alternative scenario of leading a State government with the support of the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

    The idea of a Congress-NCP-Sena coalition government is toxic. The NCP and Congress fought in alliance, and as Sharad Pawar said, got a mandate to sit in the Opposition. Post-poll coalitions are a legitimate route to government formation when the legislature is hung but the situation in Maharashtra is far from it. There were two pre-poll alliances, one got a clear majority and the other clearly lost. If the Congress and NCP want to keep the BJP out of power for ideological reasons, handing over power to a more virulent strain of Hindutva would be disingenuous. The formation of an NCP-Congress-Sena government, whatever may be its facade, will not only be a betrayal of the mandate but also be indefensible in ideological terms besides being suicidal tactically. Such an alliance, if at all formed, would not be stable or sustainable. All these parties will be rightly blamed for being opportunistic and devoid of political convictions. The BJP will be the sole beneficiary of such a thorough delegitimisation of the entire Opposition spectrum in Maharashtra.

  2. swamy says:

    If Thackeray be made CM, they will join hands not just with Congress and NCP, but with Muslim League, Taliban, Laskar Toiba, Jaish Mohemmed outfits..

  3. H says:

    Rightly said it is disrespect to the mandate, Bjp will benefit in the long run

  4. citizen says:

    Nothing will benefit BJP, why are they not agreeing to share CM as they are already in alliance with Sena ??
    They have a fear that later in coming years they may need to leave more seats to SENA to contest and each time they may need to share CM post with sena hence they are adamant so that they want sena to go with other parties.
    But if sena come to power by hook or crook sena will grow and it will leave long lasting impact on BJP vote share.

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