The Maharashtra political drama has finally come to a grinding halt. Earlier today, Ajit Pawar unceremoniously resigned from the post of Deputy CM after only hours of being sworn in. Following Ajit Pawar’s resignation, Devendra Fadnavis of BJP too tendered his resignation. With that, the door is wide open for Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP to come together and form the government, presumably, with Uddhav Thackeray being sworn in as the Chief Minister for 5 years.
The manner in which the political drama in Maharashtra ended, left many wondering whether BJP played a game where they were stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, allying with NCP might have given the impression that BJP was compromising on their ideology and allying with a party that was diametrically opposite to their ideals. On the other, if the alliance fell through as it has now, BJP would be embarrassed beyond measure. In short, in this arrangement, BJP just couldn’t win.
And that may as well be true. However, there are other angles to this that one must consider. Firstly, being in power is one of the greatest services to the ideology. Without power, none of the ideological goals that need to be fulfilled can be fulfilled. Was the alliance between BJP and Ajit Pawar ‘opportunistic’? Yes. Was it necessary? Yes as well.
Interestingly, it was not Devendra Fadnavis or the BJP that approached Ajit Pawar, it was Pawar who had approached BJP. In such a scenario, one has to look at how the entire drama unfolded. BJP and Shiv Sena fought the Maharashtra Assembly elections together. A pre-poll alliance was in place, and let’s face it, the seats that Shiv Sena won were greatly and positively impacted by the names of not only Devendra Fadnavis who has had a spotless run at governance but also Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After the elections, while BJP won 105 seats, Shiv Sena won 56 seats. BJP’s strike rate was about 70%, far, far more than Shiv Sena. After election results were announced, Shiv Sena wanted the Chief Minister’s position, which was apparently not discussed before the elections. BJP stuck to its guns and refused to cow down, and thus, started Shiv Sena’s tantrums.
Clearly, the mandate was for a BJP led government. After all, BJP was the largest party with 105 seats. That BJP could not form the government was a direct result of the greed of Shiv Sena. In such a situation, without resorting to downright immoral measures like horsetrading, the only way was to ally with Ajit Pawar when he approached BJP. Interestingly, BJP gave the other parties enough time to form their government. For days, BJP made no move. However, one has to ask if BJP would have betrayed the mandate had it refused to even try forming the government when Ajit Pawar approached them.
One must realise that political parties are not NGOs or religious institutes. Their first aim is always going to be the quest for power. BJP often comes closest to staying true to its ideology despite its quest for power. And without power, their ideology would be useless since it is a political power that is needed to affect change.
Essentially, BJP was in a high risk, high reward game where if their gamble had paid off, their reward would be being in government for the next 5 years with the power to affect change. And if they lost, it might end up in humiliation.
However, when one plays a high risk, high reward game, even if the player loses, he can’t really be blamed for trying. BJP might have lost this round and the manner in which it unfolded could be seen as a humiliation, however, it would have been morally cheating the mandate had they not tried to form the government in Maharashtra.