Sena cannot fill void left by Balasaheb

Nikhil Bhave
Sunday, 1 December 2019

So what did happen? BJP and Sena fought elections together, and whatever the leaders may tell you, the numbers tell a different thing. While certainly not by an overwhelming majority, the general mandate was clearly in favour of the BJP-Sena alliance, and then the trouble began and reached a peak when the BJP apparently lured away NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s nephew, and incidentally, one of the major targets by all and sundry of BJP.

The drama in Maharashtra may be finally over but its epilogue is yet to be written. For the last five years, the ‘allies’ in the ruling NDA were at each other’s throats. The cracks were already showing in 2014 when both BJP and Shiv Sena fought on their own, but somehow became allies again. Except, things were never the same. Both took constant jibes at each other but what happened in 2019 was unprecedented and all it has done is to deepen the cynicism among the people.

So what did happen? BJP and Sena fought elections together, and whatever the leaders may tell you, the numbers tell a different thing. While certainly not by an overwhelming majority, the general mandate was clearly in favour of the BJP-Sena alliance, and then the trouble began and reached a peak when the BJP apparently lured away NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s nephew, and incidentally, one of the major targets by all and sundry of BJP.

We all know that the only thing politicians want and crave for is power, and they will do anything for it, murder included. But then again, they don’t claim they are a ‘party with a difference.’ Nobody expects the parties currently in ruling to play fair. But the BJP has reached this far by standing on the shoulders Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who in his second term faced a similar crisis after the AIADMK withdrew support. But Vajpayee then stepped down. No defections took place.

However, things are not the same now. We have seen large-scale emigration from other parties into the BJP. In Maharashtra, it got so worse that the media dubbed it ‘mega bharti’ (mega recruitment). In Pune, the loyalists had created a ruckus during the municipal polls after BJP lured away nearly all of the opposition and gave tickets to them. Adding to that, people are seeing the appearance of dynasts. While the dynast culture is very prevalent in various other parties, the BJP had a team of leaders who rose out of nothing. They include Gopinath Munde, Pramod Mahajan and many other stalwarts. The BJP is also a party which did not have a power centre with a particular family. Now, it seems the high-command culture is seeping into the party. PM Modi gave the slogan ‘Congress Mukta Bharat’ but what we see is ‘everyone-irrespective-of-how-shady-their-past-is-yukt BJP’.
 
Ajit Pawar seemingly joining the BJP and then returning back may have either been a master move by his uncle Sharad Pawar, who is known as a master of the political game, or may be the BJP did manage to crack the household but senior Pawar quickly got into action and brought things under control. But that also showed everyone how low the party could stoop for power. 

Now, the second partner in this shoddy trainwreck: the Shiv Sena. BJP really took off in the State after their tie-up with the then Balasaheb Thackeray-led party. BJP was the junior partner in the 1995-1999 Maharashtra government. However, as BJP’s star rose, Sena’s began to wane. A series of defections took place. Starting from Chhagan Bhujbal, one of its renowned faces to Raj Thackeray in 2006. Many of its most prominent faces left. Of course, that did not matter until Balasaheb Thackeray was strong enough to keep things running. But once age started to catch up with him, his son started to take up position upfront and central. This is one flaw a party centred around a tent pole personality suffers if there is no suitable heir. All it can do is fall back on its past glories in the hope of gathering the votes. BJP did not suffer this fate until now as it was mainly a cadre-based party and not one led by leaders.

Coming back to our assessment, Sena simply cannot fill the void left by its founder.  So much so, that while defending his alliance, the parties his father kept at an arm’s length, Uddhav said that he had promised his father there will be a Sena CM. 

They have to call on him every time to defend everything, and while the BJP has rightly lost a lot of face by taking support of Ajit Pawar, the Sena has not earned itself any plaudits either. 

Most of today’s youths have seen the party being an ardent backer of the same ideology propounded by BJP. The verdict of the people was in favour of the alliance. So if anyone tells you that Fadnavis was ‘imposed’ as CM, the same holds true for Shiv Sena also.

As for the NCP and Congress, can we really blame them? They sensed an opportunity and they took it. It was wrong of both, Sena and the BJP, to escalate the matters to such an extent. 

Ultimately, the people have now seen that all parties are birds of the same feather and disenchantment with politicians will only grow further.

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