oppn parties Maharashtra: The Deadlock Continues Along With Taunts By The Shiv Sena

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Maharashtra: The Deadlock Continues Along With Taunts By The Shiv Sena

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

It is quite amusing to see the Shiv Sena egging on the BJP to break the alliance and the BJP stoutly ignoring Sena's taunts. Obviously, the BJP does not have many choices. Despite being the single largest party in the Maharashtra assembly, it is not in a position to form the government simply because its pre-poll alliance partner Shiv Sena is not supporting it over the so-called 50:50 power-sharing formula. While the BJP insists that there were talks about such an arrangement but nothing was finalized, the Shiv Sena insists that it signed, sealed and delivered. It is clear that one of the parties either misunderstood what went on during the talks or is now lying to gain an advantage. In fact, the Shiv Sena has already called the BJP decision-makers a bunch of "liars". The BJP does not have the numbers of its own and it cannot count on support from either the NCP or the Congress. Also, after Karnataka, all parties have become wary of horse-trading and poaching MLAs has become a difficult, if not impossible, thing.

The way the Shiv Sena is taunting the BJP, it seems it is bent on breaking the more than 25-year-old alliance with it. From the very beginning, when it became clear that although their mandate had been reduced, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance still had the numbers to form the government, the latter did not show much enthusiasm at the situation. In fact, the Sena was playing a different card. It knew that the BJP had vastly reduced numbers than in 2014. It knew now was the time to go for the kill. Hence, it made sharing the top post for two and half years by rotation as a precondition for forming the government and insisted that Aditya Thackeray be made the chief minister for the first half of the new government. Stunned though the BJP was, it did not give in to this and insisted that it was open to discussing anything but the top post. Things have hung fire since then and the Sena has explored other options like talking to the NCP. But Sharad Pawar clearly said that if the Sena continued its alliance with the BJP, nothing was possible. Hence, the Shiv Sena wants to break the alliance but does not want to be seen as the party that did it.

The governor has asked the BJP, as the single largest party, to indicate its willingness or ability to form the government. The BJP core committee is meeting even as this is being written. The Sena has sent them best wishes with a taunt that while the BJP is in the "business of politics", none of its MLAs were available for 'sale'. The Sena wants the BJP to break the alliance so it can approach the NCP to either form the government with it or ask it and the Congress to support a Sena government from outside. But that would be a very shaky arrangement from day one. It would also be disrespecting the people's mandate. Ideally, the Sena should negotiate hard with the BJP and if the 50:50 power-sharing is not conceded, it should try and secure additional ministerial berths to compensate for it, along with the post of the deputy chief minister. Given the number of MLAs the Sena has, one feels that would be the best arrangement. But it seems the Sena wants to make Aditya Thackeray the chief minister at any cost, even by parting ways with the BJP. It remains to be seen whether the NCP and the Congress will play along.