It is mother of all political coups in the recent memory. As people were expecting announcement of a new government of Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine in Maharashtra, the most unexpected happened. Initially many took the Saturday morning news of Devendra Fadnavis swearing in as the Chief Minister and NCP’s Ajit Pawar as his Deputy as fake. It looked so farfetched and unreal. But as the day progressed, the enormity of the coup and its manifold implications unfolded. It is to be noted that Ajit Pawar is facing enquiries in multi-crore scams by various investigating agencies. It was not long back that Mr Fadnavis, referring to the many cases against Ajit Pawar, had said that the latter’s place was in jail.
Equally crucial are reports dragging State’s Raj Bhawan to this ‘murky episode’ that turned the Maharashtra politics upside down. In hindsight, what went behind the curtain gets more clarity when one recalls Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s praise for NCP in Parliament a day before the midnight coup. Also, one has to bear in mind that a meeting took place between Mr Modi and Mr Sharad Pawar a couple of days back. Mr Pawar has distanced himself from his nephew’s coup within the party. Only time will bring out the real picture, the real players and the real politics in the whole episode.
It is important to look at the background that led to the Maharashtra imbroglio. Within six months of returning to power with an increased majority in Parliament, many of its allies have distanced from the BJP. What was most astonishing was the parting of ways with Shiv Sena, the saffron party’s most dependable and trustworthy ally of over three decades. Juxtapose this with the developments in Jharkhand where most of BJP’s allies like All Jharkhand Students’ Union, Janata Dal (United) and Lok Janshakti Party are pitted against it in the forthcoming Assembly elections. This is apart from the allies the party lost prior to the Lok Sabha elections in May.
The ‘arrogance’ of the party towards its allies was creating heartburns for the latter. They are made to feel that the ‘big brother’ does not need allies anymore to remain in power. Allies have become mere ‘add-ons’ rather than an integral part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). They are apparently ‘treated as extra baggage’ which can be shed at the whim and fancy of the baggage carrier.
Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause, said Gandhiji. If the BJP genuinely believes in pluralism and democracy, it cannot be intolerant to other parties and what they stand for. There is a concern among several BJP allies on the direction the National Democratic Alliance has taken despite its mandate for ‘ vikas’ and good governance. The comments of the leaders of the allies are a clear indication of lack of democracy within the NDA, where they feel that the BJP rides roughshod over them and is dismissive of coalition dharma. In a diverse country like India, sidelining regional aspirations and regional parties might backfire.
(Published on 25th November 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 48)