Who could have imagined that this would one day come to pass? A Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra, facilitated by the Congress and the NCP! On the other hand, who is surprised? With the ever-growing dominance of the BJP, it is natural for other parties to band together in “creative” ways, to secure themselves from being destroyed root and branch.
First of all, will this Maharashtra experiment last?
Of course not. How could it? In the last few years, we have seen multiple such arrangements cooked up to stop the BJP in its tracks. The latest was Karnataka, where Congress and JDS were left holding just 1 seat each out of 28 in the state. There was Bihar, where the RJD has now been wiped out completely. And the lesser said about the fate of the Mahagathbandhan in Uttar Pradesh, the better.
The evidence leaves no room for doubt. These desperate arrangements are bad form and people know it. The BJP sitting in opposition in Maharashtra, having won 105 out of 152 seats it contested. Meanwhile, parties that either performed quite poorly (like Shiv Sena) or were rejected outright by people (Cong and NCP) will be in charge of the state.
A government that will be universally mocked, enjoy little legitimacy in the eyes of people and will be struggling under too many contradictions to deliver. Collapse is in order, likely followed by-elections where people will not forgive them for stealing a mandate.
As Atalji had said, antarvirodhon si ghiri hui sarkar…
Importance of getting 272+
The situation in Maharashtra underlines why the single-party majority for BJP at the Center was so crucial. Imagine if the Central government could be held to ransom on a day to day basis like what is happening at the moment.
If BJP had got 271 seats, we could even have ended up with Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister and Narendra Modi as leader of the opposition. People of the country realized this possibility, shuddered at it and voted decisively to make sure it would never happen.
Where does BJP in Maharashtra go from here?
Not very far, actually. They are in a very comfortable position, at the receiving end of universal sympathy across the state. The job of the opposition here is almost too easy because people will give this new government no leeway from Day 1.
And as and when this government falls, the electorate will be extremely severe with all three parties.
Yes, the arithmetic of elections is weighted in favour of Shiv Sena + NCP + Congress. But betrayal is not taken lightly by the voters. If you want to see, look no further than Karnataka. I am not even talking about 2019. I am talking about 2008. The BJP faced much deeper “structural problems” with its geographic footprint in Karnataka. But the JDS betraying the BJP in 2008 changed everything and brought the BJP 110 seats (majority mark = 113/224) in the election. The second round of Congress and JDS betraying mandates in 2018 gave the BJP entry into parts of Karnataka it had never penetrated before.
So this is betrayal is really a chance for BJP to get the quantum jump it needed to reach a majority of its own in Maharashtra.
This also shows the power of 272+. With its comfortable majority at the Center, the BJP has the risk appetite to wait a year or two in hope of a bigger harvest later on. Instead of falling for short term blackmailing by allies. The Congress situation is just the opposite: devoid of all kinds of power, they have to do accept whatever terms anybody is willing to offer.
So who are the real losers here?
BJP will be back and in better shape. The other parties get a bite at power. The real losers here are the people of Maharashtra and the people of India.
India’s most economically significant state will now be in the hands of a short term, stumbling government that will just be marking time in office. The only achievements this new government aspires to and possibly could achieve are: completing 100 days in office; completing 200 days in office and so on until somebody falls over and pulls the plug. That does nothing for the people.
What happens to Indian liberalism from here?
Indian liberalism is in for exciting times, with the Shiv Sena as their new champions. But if you think you can embarrass Indian liberals now that they are with Shiv Sena, think again. The ‘liberals’ that we see are almost universally stool pigeons, happy to burst into song in support of anyone with the backing of Sonia Gandhi’s court.
So expect to hear a lot about a new youth icon, with much potential on Youtube and beyond. Even Achche ladke, perhaps. You might hear anecdotes about their soft side, their modern and progressive outlook and everything beyond. The last young sensation was celebrated even for getting into a TV serial style family fight with his uncle.
The show will go on. Until the time voters get to have their say.
And finally, what does Hindu right in India learn from this?
The Maharashtra experience has a valuable lesson for the Hindu right, both on and off social media. You may not like everything BJP does. You might complain about the speed of delivery.
But the fact is that BJP remains the best bet and only bet if you care about Hindutva issues. Nobody else will even humour that line of thinking.