Sena ‘back’ in power, by default!

Sena ‘back’ in power, by default!

Politics is a bigger ‘game of uncertainties’ than Cricket, at least in India. Incidents like the main Opposition party joining the Government can only be seen here.

Politics is a bigger ‘game of uncertainties’ than Cricket, at least in India. Incidents like the main Opposition party joining the Government can only be seen here.

Maharashtra’s new BJP government has expanded mainly to accommodate estranged ally, the Shiv Sena. The ‘Saffron Alliance’ is back in power after 15 long years.

The Shiv Sena vehemently opposed the BJP in the Assembly elections, refused to support it, put forth many conditions to back it but eventually gave in. It got its share of power but at what cost?

Friends had turned foes. Their campaign was bitter. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray hoped to clinch power on its own, but was humbled with only 63 seats coming its way.

Talks--overt and covert -- did take place, but the Sena started throwing tantrums and asked for minimum 12 ministerial positions. Uddhav Thackeray’s demand of key and ‘plum’ portfolios like Home and Finance and Deputy Chief Minister were seen as roadblocks. The BJP high command flatly refused and it was clear the Sena wouldn’t join hands.

However, Sharad Pawar’s National Congress Party sprung a surprise by declaring its support to ‘would be’ BJP Government on the very day of counting of votes (19th October), as the trends predicted the BJP becoming the largest single party. Interestingly, the BJP had not asked for it!

But this put the Sena in a tight spot, as its backing became insignificant. Uddhav was in a fix.

What is seen as a desperate push is that before Devendra Fadnavis was elected as BJP’s Leader of Legislative party, Uddhav offered support to ‘any person’ the BJP chose as the CM, ‘in the larger interest of the State.’ Still nothing happened.

The Congress termed the entire exercise as violation of the Constitution and demanded Fadnavis’s resignation. The NCP, charged the Sena of unnecessarily creating a scene and not being a ‘serious opposition’ as its members were not in the House the vote took place. This further infuriated Shiv Sena. It looked directionless. A case in point is the Cabinet expansion in Delhi. Last minute it refused to accept the berth offered and called back its MP. The rift had widened. The special Assembly session ended, the 10-member Government was intact and the Sena got the ‘Leader of the Opposition’ seat.

With an equal number from the BJP, the expanded Government has 30 ministers now. However, Fadnavis has retained Home with him and there is no Deputy CM. Both Finance and Revenue portfolios also remain with BJP, with Industries been given to Sena. Indeed, Uddhav was compelled to accept portfolios of secondary importance such as PWD, Environment, Health and Family Welfare etc. Some members are Minister of State and will work under BJP ministers.Remember, they have been out of power for 15 long years. Last time, the Sena had an upper hand, but now the situation had changed. It was no longer the ‘big brother’.

By: Nikhil Gajendragadkar

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