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Why Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis could be right when it comes to BJP-Sena alliance

“Politics and emerging situations convince people. The same will happen in this case,” the CM had said on Saturday about the alliance

mumbai Updated: Oct 09, 2018 00:46 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad
Shailesh Gaikwad
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra,Devendra Fadnavis,Shiv Sena
Changing political situations often guide the decisions taken by the politicians and political parties.(HT FILE)

Chief Minister (CM) Devendra Fadnavis has said the emerging situation will make the Shiv Sena forge an alliance with the BJP in the coming elections.

“Politics and emerging situations convince people. The same will happen in this case,”said a confident Fadnavis as he spoke to Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the 16th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit at New Delhi on Saturday. He also cited examples of Congress-NCP in the state and the efforts for a Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance to counter BJP in Uttar Pradesh. He is right. Changing political situations often guide the decisions taken by the politicians and political parties. Maharashtra has witnessed such dramatic moves in the past.

In late 1980s, as the Hindu hardline agenda of certain organisations (generally termed Hindutva) was catching up, it was Sena chief late Bal Thackeray who caught the trend and shifted the party’s focus from Marathi manoos to Hindutva. The move surprised many since the Sena then seemed to be gaining from merger of Sharad Pawar-led Congress (S) with then Congress (I). The Sena seemed to be best suited to fill the void in the opposition as then Congress (S) was a prominent opposition party. However, Thackeray saw the Hindutva agenda was getting response in the state and adopted it immediately. It made things difficult for BJP to build a wider base in several areas. As such, late Pramod Mahajan who was running the BJP in the state then, decided to befriend the rival whom his party couldn’t kill. Rest is history. The saffron combine became formidable opposition to the Congress in Maharashtra.

In 1998, Pawar who was then Congress’ leader in Lok Sabha, gave a jolt to the party by leading a rebellion against party president Sonia Gandhi. He along with PA Sangma and Tariq Anwar floated the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Then NCP leaders would vow to finish the Congress in the state. The 1999 Lok Sabha and assembly elections saw bitter fight between the two parties. However, as the assembly polls threw a hung house, the two parties didn’t spend much time to come together and form the government in the state. They remained in power for three consecutive terms till the two parties became bitter rivals again under Prithviraj Chavan’s tenure as CM. Now, not keen to sit in the opposition for five more years, leaders from both parties have again come together to form an alliance for the 2019 elections.

What the CM is pointing out is probably based on his reading of the current situation. 2019 is unlikely to be 2014. The Congress and NCP have realised they cannot win elections against the BJP if they fight separately. They are also building a coalition by taking smaller parties to prevent split in the opposition votes. In this background, it could be a logical step for the ruling parties to stick together.

Read more: NCP’s ‘50% challenge’ for Congress

Significantly, mood among the Sena’s elected representatives is also changing. According to a senior Sena functionary, last week, as Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray held meeting with MPs and asked them about going solo, most of them didn’t appear confident of winning if the party was contesting alone.

Many in the BJP and the Sena camp are pointing out how Pawar is guiding Congress and NCP leaders on stitching a coalition in Maharashtra. The veteran politician is considered as an expert when it comes to working out permutations and combinations for successful coalitions.

In this background, Sena has only two options: Either to go solo and enable triangular contest in the state that may harm it or to reunite with the BJP to avoid split in its votes. With no visible wave in BJP’s favour, the party will probably be ready to give status of an equal partner to the Sena. Significantly, the CM and Uddhav share good personal rapport. They also share another common factor: Both of them don’t trust Pawar.

First Published: Oct 09, 2018 00:46 IST