The BJP will lose more than Shivsena if the Yuti is dissolved. The
bargaining power of Uddhav Thackeray is dependent on this very aspect.
The No-confidence Motion debate in the Lok Sabha remained controversial for two reasons. One, Rahul Gandhi’s unexpected hug and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s snub to PM Modi. Shivsena withdrawing its support to the government in the No-confidence motion debate was as unexpected and shocking as Rahul Gandhi’s hug. Though BJP won the No-confidence vote without Shiv Sena’s support, there was no doubt that Sena’s move could prove as a last wrench to the already severed ties of the allies.
The weekend after the Lok Sabha showdown went without any flutter, only to come across as the calm before the storm. On Sunday, BJP National President Amit Shah visited Mumbai for the party’s ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ Campaign. However, according to the reports, he also asked the party cadre to be prepared to fight the Lok Sabha election without any alliance in Maharashtra. Soon after the reports came out Saamana, a mouthpiece of Shivsena published an interview of Uddhav Thackeray slamming the BJP titled, “Now we don’t need any gun, the prey is exhausted.”
On the surface, the statement may seem just another word-play but it has indeed more to reveal, come to think of it. Since 2014 Maharashtra Assembly Elections, Shivsena and BJP’s relations have remained similar to frenemies. It was only last year during the Dasara Melava, that Shivsena chief Uddhav Thackeray announced that the Maratha party will contest the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha Elections alone. With this announcement, it was obvious for people to expect that Sena will quit the NDA and govt. However, it did not happen. On the contrary, Shivsena stayed in alliance with BJP in state and center as well, while criticizing its every move. When Sena supported BJP and then decided to abstain from the No-confidence motion debate, the party came under fire for its confusion and contradictions.
Yet, reading between the lines can make us understand that it was not confusion but the precision with which Uddhav Thackeray has been playing his cards. His strategy is exactly what he said in the interview: to exhaust the prey. Let us understand it in detail.
In more than two decades of Yuti between Shivsena and BJP, the former has always played a part of Big Brother. It was Sena founder Bal Thackeray who nurtured and helped the BJP grow in Maharashtra. The initial BJP squad from Maharashtra be it Pramod Mahajan or Gopinath Munde treated Shivsena as the elder brother. However, the roles were reversed after 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The Modi wave swept the country. In Maharashtra, BJP won 23 seats while Shivsena won only 18 seats. During assembly elections, citing the greater number of BJP, the party insisted that the CM face will be from the BJP. As we all know, this irked Uddhav Thackeray who was on the waiting list for CM seat.
Many times Uddhav Thackeray has said that he would like to be the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The dream remained unfulfilled in 2014. However, the Thackeray junior hasn’t given up on the dream yet and all the bickering with BJP is motivated by the same.
If Uddhav Thackeray can be Chief Minister of Maharashtra in only two circumstances. One, if the party aligns with Congress and NCP and takes outside support from them. However, in this scenario, Uddhav Thackeray will become a stooge in the hands of Congress and NCP. Now, the party is left with another option i.e. continuing with BJP. However, Uddhav Thackeray knows it very well neither can he single-handedly win the elections nor the BJP will agree to declare him CM face of Yuti with the current strength in the assembly.
Thus, Shivsena is constantly trying to destabilize the BJP government and what better way of doing it than hitting where it hurts the most? It was the “Modi wave” that took away the role of Big brother from Shivsena. But four years into the Modi government, it has been proven that the Modi wave has already faded. Even in Maharashtra, the BJP has upset several sections of the electorate. The Fadnavis government has not only invited the wrath of Farmers but also of Marathas and Dhanagars who are demanding reservations.
The BJP is losing the grip on the ground. If nothing changes drastically in favor of BJP, the party is set to lose the PM post. As our Survey also predicted, if the party gets seats less than 230, then it will need allies to breach the majority mark. The allies, however, will not go with BJP with Modi as a Prime Minister. Sena is attacking Modi and weakening BJP’s allies base at this crucial juncture. TDP has already left the NDA camp and jumped the opposition boat. BJP cannot afford to lose Shivsena now. The modern-day Chanakya Amit Shah knows that the BJP will lose more than Shivsena if the Yuti is dissolved. Sena’s bargaining power is dependent on this very aspect. For BJP, trading CM post to Uddhav Thackeray for Modi’s PM post will be the only viable option. The Sena is attempting to exhaust the prey so that the blood is not in his hands.
Even though only six months are remaining for the next Lok Sabha elections, Shivsena is keeping BJP in a fix barring it from drafting a particular strategy for the state. As said earlier, Sena withdrawing from No-confidence motion was the biggest trigger before the big battle of 2019. Whether the strategy will succeed or not is something for all of us to look forward to in the upcoming months.