In Maharashtra, focus on the pandemic
Ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, Maharashtra has plunged into political uncertainty. Two separate developments have taken place. The first is a sense that all is not well within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA)-ruling coalitions of the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress. This was prompted by meetings Sharad Pawar — widely considered the architect of the alliance — had with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, despite Mr Pawar making it clear that the government was safe. The perception was reinforced by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s remark that the party was not the “key decision-maker” in the state. To be sure, he prefaced it with appreciating the battle the state was waging — but the remark came across as distancing the Congress from the state government’s performance. He has, since, spoken to the CM and expressed his support. The second development has been the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stepping up its attacks on the state government, with party functionaries calling for President’s rule in the state.
It is time for both sides to step back and focus on the crisis at hand. For its part, the BJP — as the Opposition — has a right to hold the government accountable for its handling of the pandemic. But it should resist from any adventurism, be it through poaching legislators from the other side or using central power to impose President’s rule. A change in regime will not solve the structural problems in Maharashtra overnight. But the onus also lies on the government of the day. The MVA needs to provide more coherent governance, smoothen differences among allies and step up its management of the pandemic.