In a sort of last-minute ditching action, Shiv Sena has decided to boycott the swearing-in ceremony of Devendra Fadnavis as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on Friday, October 31. The latest move of Shiv Sena comes after a month of bitter feud between the party and BJP post break-up of 25-year old alliance over seat sharing in the recently held Assembly election. Now, the situation has come back to square one again.
When Devendra Fadnavis takes oath as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra tomorrow, in fact the first BJP CM of the state, and the first from Nagpur, he will still not have the magic figure of 145 with him.
BJP ‘high command’ in Delhi and the RSS big bosses in Nagpur seem to be of divergent view points on who to go with. RSS view is backed by Mr. Advani in whose opinion the Shiv Sena is a natural ally of the BJP and the two have a long history together. The Shiv Sena too is desperate to get into power after a long ‘sanyaas’ of 15 years. They have been making the right conciliatory sounds through their mouth piece SAMNA. But both Prime Minister Modi and BJP President Amit Shah are not in a mood to listen.
Modi is still upset at the personal name calling indulged in by Mr. Udhav Thakrey, going to the extent of calling him ‘Afzal Khan’ who tried to kill Shivaji in a secret meeting but instead was outsmarted by the young Shivaji and died at his hands. This was the turning point of Shivaji’s life after which he went on to become Shivaji Maharaj, the invincible Maratha chieftan.
What was behind the reference in calling Modi, Afzal only Mr. Thakrey can say, but he sure could not repeat Shivaji’s feat and come out on top.
This was not the only sin he committed in Modi and Amit Shah’s eyes – he went to the extent of commenting that “even Modi’s father was not capable of getting BJP in power in Maharashtra without the Sena’s assistance.”
The third ‘mistake’ was in raking up the old Gujarathi- Marathi rivalry that festered over Bombay when Bombay state was divided into Maharashtra and Gujarat and both wanted the city of Mumbai as their capital. One just has to recall how agitated Mr. Balasaheb Thakrey had been when some flyover in Mumbai was sought to be named after Morarji Desai by the then Congress Government. The move had to finally dropped.
So the mood in the BJP camp in Delhi seems to be to ignore the Shiv Sena till it eats humble pie completely and tenders an apology to Mr. Modi. Thus they have mde it a point that apart from their own BJP MLAs, no other party members will be sworn in as Ministers tomorrow in the grand show at Wankhede stadium. The Shiv Sena on the other hand is sore at missing this opportunity of sharing the lime light.
It seems that for now Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah would rather go with NCP and take the outside support they have extended on the floor when they have to prove majority in fifteen days.
But this move makes Mr. Devendra Fadnavis and the Maharashtra BJP’s position very awkward since Devendra himself had emphasized in his Nagpur Press Conference on the day he filed nomination papers that he would never take NCP’s support.
“Read my lips, I say it not once but repeat it thrice – we shall not go with NCP, not go with NCP, not go with NCP!” he had thundered. Plus, he is the one who has been asking the maximum questions about Mr. Ajit Pawar’s alleged irrigation scams and massive corruption. On the day results were declared another BJP leader had gone on TV calling NCP the most corrupt party in the state.
Mr. Fadnavis had seemed to forget that day that in politics there are no permanent enemies nor permanent friends.
There is another paradox in the situation here. While Uddhav Thakrey had trained his guns at Modi, Mr. Modi had left no stone upturned in castigating Mr. Sharad Pawar, the NCP top boss. And while Mr. Pawar and his party have declared unconditional support, that too from outside to Devendra’s Government it is anyone’s guess when they will pull the rug from under the BJP’s feet.
How will the situation be resolved and what drama is waiting to be played out in Mumbai… it will be interesting to watch.