As the campaign for the Mumbai civic polls gained momentum over the past few days, the ruling allies-turned-foes — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena — have been targeting each other. Their two top leaders — chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray — are criticising each other so bitterly, that even the Opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are surprised. The BJP called Thackeray ‘a boss of mafias’ while the Sena accused the BJP of admitting goons into its fold. Fadnavis went on to call the Sena ‘a party of extortionists’, while Thackeray described the former as a ‘half-baked idiot’. On Monday, BJP MP Kirit Somaiya announced the names of seven companies and asked Sena leaders to come clean on their connections to these companies.
The campaign for the civic polls ends on February 19 and we don’t know how low this bitter tussle will go as the two parties keep trying to put each other down.
This is not the first time that the parties in the ruling alliance are targeting each other in the local polls. During their 15-year-long rule, the Congress and the NCP were often at loggerheads, with leaders from both sides vowing to teach the other side a lesson. However, the ongoing fight between the allies-cum-rivals establishes new example of this ‘friendly fight’.
Even if this tussle is getting more and more bitter, there won’t be an issue if one of the two parties wins the majority on its own and gets to rule the Mumbai civic body. That will also settle the dispute over who the big brother in Mumbai is. But, what if neither of the two parties goes beyond 80-90 seats and falls short of 30-40 to win power in the BMC?
Considering the current political circumstances and ground realities, the two saffron partners would have no option but to come together—something similar to what happened in the Kalyan civic body. And in such a case, how would they justify their reunion after a bitter divorce followed by the ugly skirmishes?
The way the two parties are going after each other means that either both are confident of winning the BMC on their own or that they are taking the people for granted. They don’t think people will see anything wrong or inappropriate in them coming together after the polls.
Let’s keep the Mumbai civic body issue aside.
The Shiv Sena is still a partner in the BJP-led governments at the Centre as well as in the state. What if it decides to continue to be a part of these governments after the current polls are over? Will Fadnavis still go ahead with the probe into the multi-crore scams in the BMC? Will Thackeray suddenly start praising the Modi government to justify continuing at the Centre? Will Saamana editorials stop taking potshots at the Prime Minister?
Often, politicians love to believe that public memory is short. This also gives them the confidence to stoop low while criticising rivals, and later come up with reasons to justify joining forces with the same people. Will we see the same again? Unless of course, politics in Maharashtra is reaching another turning point.