The brief assembly session of Maharashtra went on too nicely, transacting its scheduled business prudently. Speaker was elected unanimously, keeping the tradition intact, leader of the opposition declared swiftly and the discussions and speeches were found to be descent, some jibe at each other apart, which added to the colour only.
Every eye, however, is focused on Shiv Sena and its leader – No, Maharashtra’s Leader – Uddhav Thackeray. It is not the first time that Sena is leading the state but is for the first time that Matoshree’s son is leading the state, its administration and its people. While these are the moments of pride for each of the Shiv Sainiks, its supporters and sympathisers, people, in general, are keeping their fingers crossed!
How much the Party will change, how clean and efficient the administration would be, which direction the state would take and the biggest and most important question – will and how long the coalition would survive?
First – the last question, Sharad Chandra Pawar has come out with some revealing facts about the discussion or the negotiation between him and Prime Minister Modi and it had been on expected lines – at least for Pawar observers – that Modi wanted his ‘cooperation’ and that he denied it. That Modi offered a cabinet berth for Supriya, his daughter. During last at least two years BJP did everything to infiltrate and encroach into his turf very unkindly, indecently and unruly – this appeared like hitting below the belt the old lion. Luring and admitting lots of his people, many being his close aids and even trying to trap him with ED. So this time there was no question his supporting BJP and Modi. Rather, what Pawar has not revealed is – he must have told Modi that his boys of Maharashtra did not know him and also the kids did not know the rules of game.
And having told Modi so, Pawar concentrated on the brickmanship of making the coalition, putting the diverse threads together keeping in mind it lasts and runs smoothly. He prevailed upon both – Uddhav to lead the coalition other than anyone else including his son and Sonia to participate in the govt rather than supporting it from outside. Being himself expert in old school of politics, he has been a disciplined student of today’s lessons of gen-next politics. He knew quite well as Thomas Sowell once observed, “If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labelled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today…” He knew each of his players better than anyone and treated each with their own standards applying cements of different makes that would suit each of the bricks and hold them stronger.
Sharing power almost equally will also hold them together. Sonia will depend on Pawar more than her own people in the state for obvious reasons. Otherwise, also, the shape in which Congress is today – it would not afford to ditch its partners have made the alliance at the first place. After all, a political party does not get the power share of one of the richest states just like that and having got that, one has to hold on. With BJP as a formidable opposition having the key in their hands at the centre all the partners will be doubly careful not to leave any thread loose.
Besides, there is no ideological gap between Congress and NCP and Sena has got the leadership and is at the top of the world having achieved its mission – it will try to hold on each of the threads quite prudently.
Pawar is in new avatar and role altogether. He has participated in many coalitions as an excellent player, but here he is a mentor and a guiding force – he would always run an extra mile to keep and enhance his aura and glamour. Therefore, there is very strong likelihood of the coalition continuing and strengthening and eventually sailing through.
Coming to the question of Shiv Sena and Uddhav – certain drawing-room critics are raising their ever pet imaginary ‘apprehensions’ that the contradiction in ethos and ideology will change the party and would embarrass it before its core support base. There are only two points –
Firstly, Shiv Sena is a hardcore Hindutva party and unlike many other parties, it has been quite vocal in its belief and thinking. It never minced words on any sensitive and delicate issue too. The clout of Balasaheb was growing parallel with Indira in the Congress and at the centre and both supported each other – sometimes implicitly and often explicitly. Indira ji supported Balasaheb’s endeavours in Mumbai to marginalize influences of Dutta Samant, George Fernandes and the leftists in Mumbai – then Bombay and Balasaheb supported Indira for emergency and in not putting his candidates against hers in succeeding elections. And these were unique to each other. Later Balasaheb took stand against implementation of Mandal Commission report too. Many of the stands on many of the issues made the governments at the state and centre very uncomfortable and at times Balasaheb did listen to the leaders in power, rather obliging them, on their interventions. These are the few instances in the background which made space for the party in the masses.
So, today being and sharing power with Congress/NCP does not make it vulnerable at all and there should not be any contradictions among the allies. Uddhav has categorically said in assembly too that Hindutva cannot be separated from him. This statement, that too, at the floor of the house took care of a lot of confusions among the rank and file. The only thing required would be that Uddhav has to check the militancy and aggressiveness of Hindutva in check keeping the coalition dharma in mind.
Secondly, Uddhav has been a sober and articulate as a person and he has a very firm grip over the party and as a party leader and organizer his credentials are long proved. He has led Mumbai Corporation successive elections too excellently. In the first assembly election he fought without any ally and without even Saheb besides him in 2014, Sena got 63 lawmakers – better than in 2019, when he fought in ally with BJP. He, of course, does not have any experience of administration – that is a handicap but that is an edge too. An outsider’s view is often clearer. His vision would be without prejudice and the welfare of the people would be paramount in his heart. He will be quite eager to do things. He has to, however, surround himself with the people with utmost efficiency and conviction to his cause. His organisational maturity and humility would keep the alliance people in good spirits and he may be truly instrumental in mobilizing his team to really working for his people. The state has to take a direction and his leadership should reflect there. Attention towards farmers and generation of employment are of paramount importance and it is incumbent on his part to come up to expectations of his people. Destiny, which appears to be in his side, has put on his shoulders great responsibilities and he has to apply his art of photography and sobriety to provide beautiful and sweet results, like Napoleon Bonaparte felt, “I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies”.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.