Fadnavis govt @ 3: What’s happening in Maharashtra politics?
The BJP did better than other parties in the mini-assembly elections that the party saw as referendum on the performance of its government. Assuming that the BJP government’s honeymoon period is over, the Opposition is getting ready for a fightmumbai Updated: Nov 07, 2017 17:32 IST
The third anniversary of the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Maharashtra is marked by advertisement campaigns unleashed by the government and the allegations by the Opposition that the BJP was taking credit for the work done by the previous government in the state.
Controversies notwithstanding, the mood in the ruling party is upbeat. The year 2017 saw civic polls held across major cities and most of the districts in the state. The BJP did better than other parties in the mini-assembly elections that the party saw as referendum on the performance of its government. Assuming that the BJP government’s honeymoon period is over, the Opposition is getting ready for a fight. So what is exactly happening in Maharashtra politics? Here is a look:
The smooth sailing
The BJP has enough support to keep its government stable even if its unruly ally Shiv Sena quits. Though it is making a lot of noise, there is no indication that the Shiv Sena would pull out of the government immediately. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has learnt the art of running a government with the support of unhappy allies, say people from his party as well as the Opposition. Within the BJP, Fadnavis is far ahead of others who are eyeing his throne and seems to be on course to complete five years as chief minister. If he does that, he will be the second chief minister of Maharashtra since the state was formed in 1960 to complete continuous five-year tenure in office. Former chief minister late Vasantrao Naik had achieved this during his continuous 12-year-long tenure from December 1963 to February 1975. All chief ministers in the recent past — Prithviraj Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Manohar Joshi — got a four-year term at a stretch. The problem for Fadnavis is likely to come from handling of the state economy and if there is any trouble on account of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Sena’s sound and light show
The Shiv Sena leadership doesn’t leave any opportunity to train guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP governments at the Centre and in the state but it is unlikely that Uddhav Thackeray would withdraw support from either. Insiders in both the Sena and the BJP believe that the Sena will continue to target the BJP but will remain with the government. The Sena leadership is wary that the NCP will waste no time in joining the government if it walks out of the NDA. At the same time, it is irked that the BJP is taking help of its enemies such as former chief minister Narayan Rane and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray. As it became clear that Rane would be inducted as an ally and would be given a ministerial berth in state, Thackeray conveyed to Fadnavis that he was not happy with the move. He was advised not to oppose Rane’s entry since the party leadership had already taken a decision on Rane, say BJP leaders. Still, it remains to be seen how Sena reacts when Rane is inducted as a minister and given a portfolio, especially if turns out to be one of the portfolios demanded by the Sena while joining the government and BJP had not obliged.
The Sena leadership is also irked that a section of the BJP leaders have been encouraging the MNS in a bid to reduce Sena’s votes in Mumbai and Thane. The Sena is keeping a close eye on Raj’s protests against the hawkers. The party’s move to split the MNS and induct its six corporators in Mumbai civic body was aimed at discouraging the MNS before the latter starts troubling it in its bastions.
Opposition regrouping but divided
Smarting from the series of electoral defeats and barely two years to the general elections, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-led Opposition seems to be regrouping. The Congress’ victory in Nanded civic polls where it was pitted directly against the BJP has given the party cadre confidence that they can win elections. The problem for the Opposition is the trust deficit between the two major opposition parties, the Congress and the NCP. State Congress leaders suspect that the NCP won’t hesitate to support the BJP if needed. It has become an obstacle in the two parties coming together. They are separately planning protests over issues ranging from farm loan waiver to demonetisation. If they fail to come together, it may turn out to be an advantage for the BJP.
Raj picking up pieces and fighting battle for survival
After rout in the assembly and civic polls, Raj Thackeray’s party is fighting its battle for survival. Raj has raised the familiar bogey against the migrants and aiming at reclaiming his vote base that he had won in 2009 and lost in 2014 elections. Post-Elphinstone Road station stampede, he has tried to stem the anger among the suburban commuters and launched a violent agitation targeting hawkers. Will it work for him? There are doubts.