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'It was necessary for Shiv Sena to split with BJP'

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
November 28, 2019 18:20 IST

'The Shiv Sena as a party was going nowhere.'
'Now Uddhav Thackeray has shown his partymen that he can take the BJP head on.'

IMAGE: Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray greets supporters after being elected the chief ministerial candidate of the Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress alliance, November 26, 2019. Photograph: PTI Photo

After weeks of political drama in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray is the new chief minister of Maharashtra.

The development comes after Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar resigned as deputy chief minister -- to which he was sworn in on Saturday, November 23, after he surprised everyone by supporting the Bharatiya Janata Party -- and went back to his uncle Sharad Pawar to form an alliance government with the Shiv Sena and Congress.

While the three parties claim to have sorted out all differences and reached a consensus, questions remain over the future of this troika alliance.

"As far as each party is concerned, they will not lose, they will benefit," Prakash Pawar, professor of political science at the Shivaji University, Kolhapur tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.

How do you see the coming together of these three political parties in Maharashtra?

These three parties coming together is a very natural process because if you look at the Shiv Sena of today, they do not have such aggressive Shiv Sainiks (as they used to have earlier).

That era of aggressive Shiv Sena is over. Today, a Shiv Sainik is only a Shiv Sainik and not an aggressive Shiv Sainik.

The biggest trouble was that the BJP's Hindu voter and Shiv Sena Hindu voters were no longer looking different.

The Shiv Sena Hindu voter was transforming himself into a BJP Hindu voter and therefore there was no differentiation between a Shiv Sena follower and a BJP follower.

Thus, there was no future of Shiv Sena as a party left in Maharashtra.

What about the Congress and NCP coming together with the Shiv Sena? How could they compromise their ideology?

It is not surprising because the NCP left secularism and adopted Shiv Swaraj philosophy, which means accepting all religions.

The Congress was secular at the national level, but on the ground in Maharashtra, every Congress leader was working only in their constituency and appealing to only the Hindu vote bank.

You take all Congress leaders like Ashok Chavan or for that matter Prithviraj Chavan, they never raised the issue of secularism in this election.

Is secularism as a concept dead in Maharashtra?

Secularism is not dead, but no one speaks about it now.

Who loses most among the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena by coming together to form the government?

They don't lose, but the BJP loses badly.

As far as each party is concerned, they will not lose, they will benefit.

Devendra Fadnavis created a development model of politics in Maharashtra.

Now, this is against Yashwantrao Chavan's (Sharad Pawar's mentor) model and Balasaheb Thackeray's model of politics.

The current leaders of these two models -- Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray -- could not hold on to their socio and economic models vis a vis the Fadnavis model.

And though they formed the government, this conflict is not over.

How long this government lasts we cannot say at this moment. Every day and every month you will surely see some or other conflict among them.

Will voters not feel cheated?

Voters too know this. Rural voters in Maharashtra are with Pawar and urban voters in places like Nagpur and Mumbai are divided between the Shiv Sena and BJP.

Has Sharad Pawar outdone Modi-Shah in realpolitik?

It is wrong to call Sharad Pawar Chanakya. Modi-Shah politics is personality based whereas Pawar's politics is based on rural interest.

Did Modi and Shah miscalculate Pawar's strength? Where did they go wrong?

Modi and Shah know that to finish Pawar politics means finishing the Yashwantrao Chavan model of politics and that in turn means (finishing) the Nehru model of politics.

What happened in Maharashtra was bound to happen as the socio-economic model of the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP were in danger.

They had to come to an alliance because of Fadnavis's socio-economic model. And this alliance got stronger after the election results.

What is the future of Ajit Pawar?

He is nobody in this game. He went to the BJP and came back.

Do you feel he went on his own or did Sharad Pawar tell him to go?

I don't think anyone told him to go. He went on his own and came back.

He came back to the NCP and he has no role at present.

You must have noticed that (NCP MP and Sharad Pawar's only child) Supriya Sule was welcoming every MLA to the oath-taking ceremony. There is a shift of leadership in the NCP now.

The NCP has accepted Supriya Sule as the next leader for now.

And Ajit Pawar is out of the NCP leadership?

He is not out of leadership, but he will work under Supriya Sule.

Where did Ajit Pawar go wrong?

He always had this problem of being irrational. He was never a rational person.

Sharad Pawar too knows this fact.

Earlier, in 2012 too, he had resigned as deputy chief minister when the Congress-NCP government was ruling Maharashtra.

After that at an election rally he made (his infamous remarks) to farmers who didn't have water that 'Shall I urinate to fill dams?'

Did he have the support of NCP MLAs when he went over to the BJP?

He has support among NCP MLAs except Jayant Patil.

But till the time Sharad Pawar is alive, every NCP MLA is emotionally close to him.

Do you think it was essential for the Shiv Sena to break away from the BJP alliance?

It was very essential for the Shiv Sena to split with the BJP.

The Shiv Sena as a party was going nowhere.

They had major trouble in Mumbai as their Sainiks were no longer aggressive.

And the worse part was that this ordinary Shiv Sainik, who should have the aggressive streak in him, was saying that his party must support the BJP as they were doing well.

And this change happened under Uddhav Thackeray.

Now he has shown to his partymen that he can take the BJP head on and his party is different from the BJP.

SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
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