When the results of the recent state elections were announced it was assumed that Govt formation shall be difficult in Haryana and quite smoother in Maharashtra. But what happened later was completely the opposite, while ML Khattar returned as the C.M in Haryana; Maharashtra still awaits its Chief Minister. The desperation of ShivSena to reach the state’s top post has once again exposed the vulnerabilities of the Hindutva or the Right Wing ideology.
While the Shiv Sena is habitual of throwing tantrums whenever they have to deliberate on Govt formation, but this time it seems they went a bit too far. In the quest for power the Thackerys have dumped the core ideology on which the party was built and are ready to compromise to any extent. When last checked, Uddhav Thackery was meeting his legislators assuring them of reaching the throne so that the newly elected MLAs do not jump the boat. Yesterday, Bhavana Gawali, Shiv Sena MP urged Congress & NCP to form Govt as early as possible so as to provide relief to farmers. It is clear that agrarian crisis, unemployment, increased reservation in state jobs etc will be the usual spin offs around which the narrative of Govt formation will be built.
The name of the proposed coalition “Maha Vikas Aghadi” also suggests the same theme. Since both NCP & Congress have almost agreed to keep Shiv Sena’s CM face indicates that both parties want to work from behind rather than haggle on CM post and hence remain away from power. As Congress & ally NCP come to power they will snatch away one more state from the BJP thus weakening the Modi’s dream of a Congress Mukt Bharat. Both parties will surely resume funding activities which will make them stronger at the state level but also stay cash rich for future elections. Political parties use Govt machinery for funding purpose is a known fact and the priorities of Congress & NCP will become increasingly clear with the distribution of portfolios in the coalition Govt.
The power play in Maharashtra has important lessons for the Right Wing particularly the Hindus who support such ideology. One it shows that the Hindutva torchbearers lack the foresightedness and patience that the Congress ecosystem has shown time and again. It may be because the right winged parties in India have tasted only intermittent periods of power while largely being relegated to opposition. Hence often the desire to capture power overrides the duty to adhere to the core ideology. Second, it shows that the right wing can be easily fractured, manipulated, negotiated and even bought off for the right price. So, to avoid such setbacks, the Hindutva voter should keep its political authority always on the tenterhooks and not let these parties take the voter for granted. Whenever such an ideological betrayal happens there should be an alternate right wing entity available to absorb the vote’s migration. Luckily, the alternate here in Maharashtra is BJP.
Though the opportunity to consolidate Hindu votes will surely come in the next state elections, the BJP should start preparing itself for going all alone in the state. Not only should BJP begin head hunting capable leaders in the constituencies it left for the Shiv Sena, it should open new fronts to outflank the Shiv Sena coalition. Some of these immediate outflanking moves would be to open debates on National Register for Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Bill. These two issues will be sufficient to test the secular credentials of the Shiv Sena. Dawood Ibrahim is one name that will perturb NCP & Congress alike. It is time MHA and other central law enforcement agencies further inquiries into the alleged dealings of the D company with the Maharashtra state officials and politicians. Also, we should remember NCP leader and ex aviation Minister Praful Patel who was recently summoned by ED in money laundering case. These are some of the issues can which can act as pressure points over the Shiv Sena and will surely test its yield strength. For the more Shiv Sena defends Congress/NCP in these issues so as to continue the coalition, the more its voter base will attempt to find an alternative in next electoral contest.
Irrespective of whether the proposed coalition survives a full term or not, Shiv Sena has voluntarily offered itself to be sacrificed at the altar of morality. It’s the best time for the BJP to cut it to size and make it harmless.