Thursday, June 4, 2020
Home Politics Devendra Fadnavis: Party or Broker? Decoding Maha CM’s move in ADHM ‘deal’

Devendra Fadnavis: Party or Broker? Decoding Maha CM’s move in ADHM ‘deal’

Also Read

Amit Kelkar
a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

Social media, newspaper op-eds and TV debates are abuzz with the ‘intervention’ of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in resolving the dispute between Karan Johar and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in relation to the release of the move Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM).

MNS had threatened the owners of multiplexes that if they exhibited ADHM, they may face disruption and forcible blocking of the movie because it has Pakistani actors. Other than MNS, some single screen owners themselves had decided to boycott the release in wake of anti-Pakistan feelings running high in the country after Uri attack.

With the opposition growing, Bollywood talking heads quickly conflated boycott with ban, misrepresenting the boycott as government intervention, and immediately took the battle to the only destination they recognize lately – PM Modi’s doorstep.

The matter went through familiar twists and turns adequately documented in “The Intolerance Playbook in Modi’s India” which was written before the Bihar election in November 2015. Given that Maharashtra was at the frontline of this controversy, CM Fadnavis had to act in some way to bring the issue to a logical closure. Last week, Fadnavis met the MNS chief Raj Thackrey and Karan Johar to put an end to this controversy.

After this meeting, MNS ‘cleared’ the movie release with three key demands accepted by Johar – no future association of Pakistani artists, a tribute to the soldiers before the movie plays, and a donation of Rupees 5 crore towards Army welfare by every producer who has cast Pakistani artists in any movie yet to be released.

The Maharashtra CM came in for heavy criticism for “brokering” such a settlement, though he claims he had opposed the MNS demand of donation of 5 cr, which was quickly agreed upon by the producers.

His intervention has been dubbed as a poor precedent, breakdown of good governance, and a blot on the position of a Chief Minister.

While all this is debated and more, the most important reason for Fadnavis’ intervention is being missed out on. His actions – whether or not befitting a Chief Minister – were completely political, and he has managed to strengthen his party ship in a big way after this ‘settlement’.

How? The answer lies in the Maharashtra state assembly election of 2014. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has about 42% of the seats in the assembly. It is supported by Shiv Sena (SS), which is still smarting from the loss of designation as the leader of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Maharashtra. The other option for the BJP is to take outside support from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to keep the government stable. But BJP, and specifically Fadnavis, vociferously campaigned against NCP in 2014 on the way to power. So that’s an avoidable option. Therefore BJP would like to keep SS, but also have the upper hand.

BJP however cannot have the administrative upper hand, because it does not control any large municipal body in Maharashtra outside Nagpur. All these corporations are with SS, NCP, and Congress or in one case, MNS.

Retaining these municipal bodies is critical for each of those four parties – after all politics needs money and money is derived from power. All the moves with respect to AHDM were actually staged by every party not so much in an ideological way, but to position themselves ahead of the local body elections.

The new round of local body elections start November end and will culminate with the larger corporations Mumbai (BMC), Thane (TMC), Pune (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad (PCMC) going to polls in February.

Ideally, Fadnavis would want to control BMC with the support of SS and PMC independently. He would also want to be a clear second in TMC (likely to be retained by SS) and PCMC (likely to be retained by NCP). This game of thrones needs a certain style of voting division. That’s where MNS comes into play – its voter base has significant overlap with that of SS and in some cases the BJP itself.

Fadnavis’ intervention has given a new lease of life to MNS in Maharashtra, and it may ride the ‘victory against Johar’ wave to cut some votes in these elections specifically in Greater Mumbai and Pune Metro regions.

This political action gains more prominence because for the initial rounds of polls for smaller local bodies, SS has decided to contest independently of the BJP. This announcement was made by the SS Chief Uddhav Thackrey just a few days ago.

BJP has a reasonably strong urban vote base in Maharashtra but it is not a strong party in semi-urban and rural areas. With that handicap, it is quite likely that the party does not fare too well in these smaller local bodies, which tend to be dominated by local strongmen, often aligned with either SS or NCP.

So it became doubly critical for Fadnavis to control the 4 February elections. The only way he could convince SS to have an alliance would have been to show them that BJP had a credible alternative (an MNS alliance) or could prop up a bogey (MNS contesting all seats against SS).

The meeting with Raj Thackrey and Karan Johan achieved that amply. Irrespective of the optics of the settlement conditions, ADHM will now release sans violence. SS will have to find another way to put pressure on the BJP to let them be the senior partner in February polls. And Fadnavis will go into these negotiations from a position of strength.

Was the CM intervention bad optics? Was this bad governance? A CM exceeding his brief? Debates will continue to take place and most people, including many vocal BJP supporters on the social media, believe that Fadnavis erred.

But Fadnavis appears to be betting on the fact that the voters don’t take editorial commentaries too seriously and may well see the compromise as a ‘reasonable one’. He may have lost the morality perception of social media influencers, but gained in a huge way in his political standing. In his equations with SS, it is Advantage Fadnavis for now.

Some Twitter celebrities asked if Fadnavis was the party or the broker to the MNS – Johar settlement. He was neither. Instead he made a move to be the Baazigar – kuchh haar ke jeetne wale ko… Voters will complete the dialog one way or the other in February 2017.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Amit Kelkar
a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

Trending now

The Wire report claims Tripura govt paid less amount to students for mid-day meal scheme, data shows govt paid 50% more

Tripura govt debunks The Wire report saying less amount was paid to students under mid-day meal scheme during lockdown

Food Corporation of India fact-checks Scroll, calls out its deliberately misleading report claiming 65 lakh tonnes food grains wasted amid lockdown

The FCI has slammed Scroll after the latter published a report claiming that India had let 65 lakh tonnes of grains go to waste.

Delhi anti-Hindu riots: Tablighi Jamaat, PFI, Jamia links emerge as Delhi Police files charge sheet

The Tablighi Jamaat links have emerged in the charge-sheet filed by the Crime Branch of Delhi Police pertaining to violence in Shiv Vihar area during the Anti-Hindu riots in Delhi.

Amul pumped in Rs 8,000 crore back into rural economy during lockdown, increased milk collection by 15% with seamless supply chain

Dairy cooperative AMUL stood tall as the coronavirus crisis hit the country and against all odds managed to ensure that milk distribution is not impaired and supply chain management is seamless.

LGBT Community condemns pride march at Lal Chowk, abandons Pride Kashmir even as radical Muslims give them death threats

LGBT Community is now saying that holding pride marches during pride month is worthy of condemnation.

‘Muslim Lives Matter’ at a time of BLM: Biggest lesson from this development is that Indian liberals and Western progressives are devotees of the...

Indian liberals decided that it was a good opportunity to equate Indian Muslims with the Black population in the USA and trend 'Muslim Lives Matter'.

Recently Popular

Woman ‘protestor’ poops on an overturned police car in middle of riots in America. Watch the video (or maybe not)

A woman was seen defecating on a damaged police car in USA, an act video recorded and photographed by onlookers

“Chacha hai, aisa kabhi nahin kar sakte,” Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s niece alleges torture, sexual assault by his brother, says the actor did not support her

She further alleged that when she told Nawazuddin about the childhood trauma she went through, even he did not believe her.

Hindustani Bhau files police complaint against Ekta Kapoor for ‘inappropriate sex scene’ in her erotic web series XXX 2

Hindustani Bhau took to Instagram on Monday to share a video from outside Mumbai's Khar Police station stating that he has filed the complaint against Ekta and Shobha Kapoor 'for disrespecting our Indian military, national emblem, colonel tag and defaming our country'.

Meerut: Shakib posed as Hindu to trap Punjab girl who eloped with him with jewellery worth Rs 25 lakh, beheads her after revealing his...

Meerut police solves one-year old mysterious murder case, finds Muslim Shakib had eloped with Hindu girl pretending to be Hindu and then killed her

Delhi riot charge-sheet: Tahir Hussain met Umar Khalid, Pinjra Tod activists sent messages asking Muslims to keep acid, petrol, hot water, stones ready

The Delhi riot charge-sheet prove beyond doubt that the violence was well planed and organised by Islamist and leftist activists

Standup comedian apologises for insulting Hanuman Chalisa, says he is a Hindu too and will never repeat such acts

A video of Alokesh Sinha's performance had gone viral on social media recently, where he was seen using derogatory words for the Hanuman Chalisa.

Internet security firm Malwarebytes Labs report says coronavirus campaigns causing a surge in malware attacks

Tech security report says cyber criminals are using work from home and coronavirus campaigns to launch malware attacks

Civil liberties group sues US President Donald Trump for his executive order to regulate social media, alleges the order curbs free speech

NGO Centre for Democracy and Technology files federal lawsuit against Donald Trump's order to regulate social media

Maharashtra governor overrules CM Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to cancel final year university exams, calls it ‘violations of University Act’

Maharashtra CM in an address to the State on Sunday evening announced that the state had no choice but to promote final-year students based without exams

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, nurses of AIIMS Delhi continue to protest for better facilities

The Union of nurses in AIIMS Delhi is demanding better facilities for nursing staff especially female staffers

Indian Railways refunds Rs 1,885 crore to passengers against cancellation of trains due to coronavirus lockdown

On May 21, Indian Railways had announced to restart services of 200 passenger trains that it will operate from June 1.

India lodges strong protest over desecration of Buddhist carvings in PoK’s Gilgit-Baltistan, asks Pakistan to vacate illegally occupied territories

India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over the destruction of Indian-Buddhist heritage in the Gilgit-Baltistan region

Sweden’s Coronavirus response hailed by Indian liberals was flawed, admits country’s response in-charge

Sweden remains the only Scandivanian country with an outsize number of cornavirus infection and fatalities, much higher than those witnessed in Finland, Denmark and Norway

Supreme court refuses to entertain a plea seeking India to be officially renamed only as ‘Bharat’

Dismissing plea to rename the country as only Bharat, CJI said that it is not the job of the court to consider such issues

The Wire report claims Tripura govt paid less amount to students for mid-day meal scheme, data shows govt paid 50% more

Tripura govt debunks The Wire report saying less amount was paid to students under mid-day meal scheme during lockdown

Food Corporation of India fact-checks Scroll, calls out its deliberately misleading report claiming 65 lakh tonnes food grains wasted amid lockdown

The FCI has slammed Scroll after the latter published a report claiming that India had let 65 lakh tonnes of grains go to waste.

Connect with us

229,422FansLike
361,000FollowersFollow
245,000SubscribersSubscribe