Opportunism triggers collapse, bumpy road ahead for Uddhav Thackeray

Poetic justice was in full play in Maharashtra where sheer opportunism, which had led to the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, has also caused its downfall too. This is perhaps the first instance when a government has fallen on the issue of Hindutva and a new dispensation is set to take over on the same plank. A report by Sunny Sharma

In a dramatic turn of events, the Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde has been sworn in as the 20th Chief Minister of Maharashtra and BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, as the Deputy Chief Minister. The resignation of Uddhav Thackeray as Maharashtra Chief Minister had brought down mid-term curtains on the MVA government.

With this Uddhav has met his nemesis and it’s a time of reckoning for him because the BJP had comfortably emerged as the single largest party after the October 2019 Assembly elections, having won 105 seats in the 288-member House. But the Shiv Sena, which bagged only 56 seats, parted ways and tied up with the NCP and the Congress, which had won 54 and 44 seats, to form the government. The alliance of the three parties that had virtually nothing in common except selfish political ambitions, looked absurd from day one.

It is clear that the BJP and Fadnavis in particular took his 2019 defeat as a personal affront after his unseemly haste in forming the half-baked 80-hour government with Ajit Pawar. The Sena had at that time severed its ties with its long-term partner BJP. The latter was waiting for the opportune moment to make its next move. A BJP leader privy to the thinking in the party leadership said that it was Fadnavis who identified Eknath Shinde as the ‘potential bait’ to voice rebellion in Shiv Sena. In the last few days, Fadnavis made three known trips to Delhi, keeping the central leadership apprised of every step of the operation. Sources say he personally looked into the logistics involving the moving of Sena MLAs to Surat immediately after the MLC elections on June 20th and then their move to Guwahati and finally to Goa, as also ensuring the safe passage of other MLAs who joined the rebel camp subsequently.

Ironically, Uddhav Thackeray had repeatedly emphasized that he never wanted the chief ministership. His words have come true and as he resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra, Thackeray said he came to the post “unexpectedly”, and was going out “unexpectedly”. In the initial months of his chief ministership, Thackeray was reluctant to move to Varsha (the official residence of the chief minister) but later shifted to the official CM residence for ease of government functioning. Faced with the revolt and a possible defeat, Thackeray moved out of the bungalow in Malabar Hill to his family home, Matoshree in Bandra East.

To his credit goes the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, CM’s blind trust in the loyalty of his warriors has turned out to be misplaced and Shiv Sena MLAs who had been complaining about lack of access to the chief minister and his son and Minister Aaditya Thackeray finally revolted. Little doubt, Shiv Sena, the party of Bal Thackeray, who had earned the moniker of ‘tiger’ due to his rabble-rousing firebrand speeches is facing a severe crisis. Uddhav Thackeray always remained behind the scenes and perhaps that was his mistake that could even dent the Thackeray legacy?

Significantly, the collapse of one state government after another in recent years — Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Puducherry and now Maharashtra has raised a question mark over the relevance of elections. Questions are being raised as to which state would be in the firing line next?