The Twisted Maharashtra Climax: Triumph or Loss of Face for BJP?

If the national ruling party BJP, through the bizarre turns and twists of the tale, wants the citizens of the country, irrespective of being their supporters or not, to believe that the party was not behind what unfolded in Maharashtra over the last 9 days the party leadership is under a delusion and totally on the wrong track; because everybody has been getting used to their games over the last few years, from Arunachal Pradesh to Goa. It had been a forgone conclusion that the waiting-in-queue former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis was set to become the CM after a lapse of two and half years, till the last few hours in the afternoon of Thursday, the 30th of June 2022 when the rebel group leader Eknath Shinde arrived in Mumbai to talk and negotiate with Fadnavis for the formation of the new government, still leaving his 49 or 50 supporters behind in Goa. As per the script both the leaders met the Governor and staked their claims. Again as per the script the oath-taking ceremony was to be held on Friday, the 1st of July 2022. However, things bizarre started happening very fast after that.


First, the swearing-in ceremony for the formation of the new government was advanced to 7pm today itself, that is say, at least the swearing-in of the new CM. And then, in a joint press conference addressed by Shinde and Fadnavis the latter dropped the bombshell that the new CM was going to be Eknath Shinde, and not himself as was widely expected in media circles.  Fadnavis went on to say that the state BJP would not even be a part of the government, only extending his party’s support to Shinde’s faction from outside.  That announcement left everyone in utter disbelief and it was speculated that the BJP, in fact, wanted to oust the Thackeray family from active politics while still claiming the legacy of Balasaheb Thackeray and to show that they’d not been hungry for power at all, not at all having any part to play in the split in Shiv Sena. It was also speculated that Fadnavis wanted to become the kingmaker or the remote control to monopolize the Hindutva space in the state.


In another twist just before the oath-taking ceremony Devendra Fadnavis announced that they’d in fact be a part of the new government and that he’d be the new Deputy Chief Minister. This announcement was supposedly made at the directions of the BJP high command in Delhi. And accordingly, the swearing-in ceremony was organized with Shinde taking the oath as the new CM and Fadnavis as the Deputy CM.


While the earlier speculations we mentioned could still be valid the question arises as to why the mighty BJP should allow the party to demote itself to a secondary position. Could it be due to factors of compulsion? Because, the only hope of the BJP to recapture power depends entirely on that faction of 49 legislators supporting Shinde who claims to be the real Shiv Sena and should they decide to go back to the Thackeray fold later the BJP would again be out of power. This makes the alliance as unholy as the earlier one looking at a volatile future ahead. So far the defectors have been kept safely away from the hub of politics, but they will have to come back to take oath, join the government and run it.


Another question that arises is that if the BJP is agreeable to giving away the post of the CM to Shiv Sena why they didn’t do it in 2019 which would’ve prevented the entire political drama to unleash ceaselessly in the following two and half years and would’ve ensured a BJP CM for at least two and half years seamlessly. Such questions raise the doubt that the BJP has in fact suffered a loss of face under pressing compulsions. One BJP national spokesperson has stoutly justified the move saying that their party is committed to ending family rule in politics across the country; well, that can be too tall a promise. Besides, a long battle lies ahead of Shinde’s faction to fight for the original party symbol and to appropriate the Balasaheb legacy at the same time. On the other hand, the NCP stalwart Sharad Pawar is not going to sit idle and watch the games as a spectator. Only the future can tell on how solid grounds the new alliance stands at the moment.


In any case, it’s become a struggle for sheer survival as far as Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray and their loyalists are concerned. They still have the support of about 16 legislators and a few of the Members of Parliament, and enjoy grass-root support in the metro of Mumbai. But the real test scenario is set to unfold in rural Maharashtra and other districts of the state. They should stop crying hoarse about their own people deserting them, and instead should fight it out in all corners of the state.