Not Ajit Pawar, alliance with ShivSena was BJP’s biggest mistake

If BJP had contested 288 seats and the strike rate was 70%, it would have won close to 200 seats. 55 seats more than the absolute majority

Mumbai: In the last twenty-four hours, Maharashtra’s Political Drama saw an unexpected anti-climax with Ajit Pawar stepping down as the Deputy Chief Minister and Devendra Fadnavis resigning as the Chief Minister just 80 hours after both of them took oath at a pre-dawn surprise oath-taking ceremony organized at Raj Bhavan.

Well, Ajit Pawar has returned to the NCP. He went and met Sharad Pawar on Tuesday night apparently with a Cadbury chocolate in his hand. Today, Supriya Sule was seen hugging him as he entered the Maharashtra assembly premises. She welcomed him with a big smile and a sigh of relief.

And why not, the last eighty hours were testing times for the NCP. With Ajit Pawar aligning with the BJP, the NCP which was in the middle of the talks with Congress and ShivSena found itself in a credibility crisis. The leader second to Sharad Pawar-the party supremo, “stealing the signature of NCP MLAs” and using it to show support to the BJP left everyone baffled. But Sharad Pawar throughout this period remained calm and composed. While the Advocates were battling it out in the Supreme Court for the immediate floor test, Sharad Pawar managed to keep the cadre of NCP intact. Much of the credit for this also goes to the footsoldiers of ShivSena and NCP. But it was Sharad Pawar who constantly made sure that the MLAs had no doubts that situation was under his control and Ajit Pawar though switched sides could not have formed the government.

For an 80-year-old man whose politics as Fadnavis described the era has ended showed everyone that the political manoeuvring still very much outsmarts the ability to broker the power.

Since Saturday, I am hearing and I am sure you also are hearing the talks about who is the real Chanakya whether it is Amit Shah or Sharad Pawar. Since 2014, whenever one says Chanakya in the political context, we assume it is for Amit Shah. That’s the image of him carefully crafted. But the tag falsely implies the brokering of power as the political manoeuvring. What Amit Shah is possibly best at is a selection of candidates and brokering power. Take the example of Bihar. BJP was able to broker power and bring Nitish Kumar back to their fold. Take an example of Karnataka, it was the operation kamal that prompted the resignation of MLAs which brought the Congress-JDS govt down. Most of the MLAs now have joined BJP. In Goa, despite Congress emerging the single largest party, BJP struck a deal with smaller parties and formed the govt with their support. Same was the case in Manipur where despite having only 2 MLAs BJP is in power. Take a look at the Maharashtra elections and you will see a lot of the leaders that the party fielded have jumped from another side. You will see a similar example in other states as well.

So it’s not really the political acumen that has driven BJP’s victory in most state assemblies but the effective brokering of power. We cannot compare it to the old school but still relevant political manoeuvring in which Sharad Pawar excels.

If BJP was not into brokering power, it would have never allied with the ShivSena in the first place for Assembly elections. A party that has been in power with the BJP at the centre and at the state but still criticized it to the point that Fadnavis himself had to say that even the opposition did not criticize us this much. What possibly could be the reason that the ruthless BJP went and tied up with the ShivSena? In fact, if you go by the claims of Fadnavis that the strike rate of BJP is 70% this time, imagine what would have happened if it had contested alone. If BJP had contested 288 seats and the strike rate was 70%, it would have won close to 200 seats. 55 seats more than the absolute majority.

Couldn’t the BJP with all its well-oiled data machinery and internal opinion poll survey figure it out? And if it did but still stayed with ShivSena, isn’t this BJP’s biggest political mistake? Not aligning with Ajit Pawar but Aligning with Shivsena? That was the mistake of BJP. The way ShivSena was expressing its discontent time and again, even claiming that they have resignations in the pocket, BJP would have seen it coming. But the fact is they didn’t and that is precisely why losing Maharashtra is not only a setback for BJP. It is definitely a loss of face too.

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