No one anticipated this kind of drama that unfolded in Maharashtra. However, what is happening in Maharashtra is not new to Indian politics.
Countless BJP supporters questioned the party’s opportunistic step of forming the government in Maharashtra with the tainted Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP. Their concern is not only “opportunism,” but also “immorality.” How did they ally with a person they accused so vehemently? They feel that it shatters BJP’s assiduously cultivated narrative of being a party ‘with a difference.’ That is understandable.
What baffles me is the fact that those who were excited at the possibility of an outright immoral alliance of Sena, NCP, and Congress, are also questioning the government formation in Maharashtra on ‘moral’ grounds. The very same people who celebrated every such move of Congress when it murdered democracy at the drop of a hat.
Let me take you down the memory lane and revisit two such incidences out of countless occasions when the decision of the Governor to invite and install a new government has been challenged.
Gujarat: In 1995, the BJP for the first time won a majority in Gujarat, winning 121 out of 182, and Keshubhai Patel became the Chief Minister. Patel resigned following the revolt of his colleague Shankarsinh Vaghela, and Suresh Mehta was sworn in as the CM in October. Congress, which had won 45 seats only, pushing itself into irrelevance in Gujarat, sprung into action. They conspired with BJP rebellion Vaghela, who flew more than 45 MLAs to Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh and hosted by CM Digvijay Singh. That is when the resort politics was introduced in India.
However, the BJP Govt had proved its numbers in the house after Vaghela was expelled from the party. Minutes after hell broke loose in the house. Congress MLAs flung microphones at the treasury benches, and blood flowed in the house. A delegation of journalists presented a memorandum to the Governor Krishna Pal Singh, who cited the breakdown of the constitutional machinery. Despite Suresh Mehta parading his MLAs in Delhi, Gujarat had been placed under President’s rule. A trap set by the Congress party in collusion with the Deve Gowda Government.
Vaghela became CM with Congress’s support for a short period. In the next election, they were voted out by Gujrat Janata.
Jharkhand: In the 2005 Assembly election, BJP was the single largest party, winning 30 seats, and its pre-poll alliance partner JD(U) had won 6 taking the NDA tally to 36 in the 81 member Assembly. The UPA was far behind with 27 seats – with JMM winning 17, Congress 9, and NCP 1. Soon after the results, BJP received the support of 5 other MLAs taking the NDA tally to 41, a simple and clear majority.
The BJP staked claim to form the government physically parading 41 MLAs including the 5 other MLAs before the Governor Syed Sibtey Razi. But what Governor did, shocked the entire state of Jharkhand. He invited Shibu Soren of JMM to form the government. Stephen Marandi, a JMM rebel who had just defeated Shibu Soren’s son Hemant from Dumka, was also sworn as Deputy CM.
The NDA cried foul. The only option left was to parade 41 MLAs before President Kalam. What happened after that is much exciting than an Abbas-Mastan thriller.
The Deputy CM Stephen Marandi and his men stopped the chartered plane on the runway at Ranchi Airport as it was about to take off! The aircraft was raided to capture the independent MLAs on board. Alas! The 5 MLAs weren’t on board. Realized that the MLAs were escaping, the Congress government sealed every state border they thought BJP would take the MLAs through. Convinced that BJP would never choose a Left Front ruled state, Congress deployed minimum resources in Bengal. BJP took the 5 MLAs by road from Bengal to Bhubaneshwar and then to Delhi by flight and paraded before the President of India.
Governor Sibtey Razi had to dismiss Shibu Soren Govt and invited Arjun Munda to form the government in the state.
Now when I hear Congress Party leader and CM of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot say: “Governor must resign on moral grounds. He has no right to remain in office,” while questioning the morality of revocation of President’s rule in Maharashtra, it reminds me of Akabar Ilahabadi’s words:
Now let us examine the “situation” in Maharashtra. Shiv-Sena 124 contested the election on 124 seats as BJP’s (154 seats) junior partner “against” Congress+NCP alliance. The Mahayuti was in power, and Fadnavis was the incumbent chief minister.
To everyone’s surprise, Shiv Sena opted to lead the alliance with half the number of seats of its partners. It was an illogical, immoral, utterly foolish demand that betrayed the people of Maharashtra. People gave the Mahayuti led by Fadnavis, overwhelming support to form the government and continue the excellent work.
Shiv Sena claimed that there was a private, closed-door agreement on the 50-50 without a shred of evidence to back it. Even if such an agreement existed and was not spoken during election rallies, it was deliberate cheating.
If people knew such an agreement existed, they might have voted accordingly. BJP voters who voted for Sena would understand that they are voting for a Shiv Sena CM for half the term and vice-versa. Contrary to that, BJP President Amit Shah clearly stated during the election that there is no question of anyone other than Fadnavis becoming the CM. He rejected any such proposal being made from Sena. Why didn’t Sena object or broke the alliance then? Were they of the opinion that they may lose some seats/public support?
Once people voted for the Fadnavis-led coalition, without knowing any such agreement exists, the mandate supersedes any closed-door arrangement. It was immoral on Shiv Sena’s part to claim the CM post even for a week.
The tamasha did not end there. Congress and NCP that came third and fourth in the election started conspiring to somehow keep the BJP out of power. Now, if Sena openly dumped its ideological partner stimulated by the blind ambition of a father, to join hands with his arc ideological rivals, the burden of immortality, lies primarily with the Sena. NCP and Congress also displayed ugly politics, who found this opportunity, convenient to bargain the power share.
Morality, in a nutshell, is a combination of two factors: fundamental norms of behaviour of being ‘in good taste’ and external sanctions of the society. Those moral values are superficial that do not aim for the greater good of the society and strives for sacrifice, robbing people of all motivation. Morality in politics is even more absurd a concept.
Even the communist party and entire left intelligentsia are crying foul siding with Congress-Sena alliance. The same Congress that created Shiv Sena with a singular motive to destroy communists in Mumbai. But these leftist rogues never fluster from their focus. They hate BJP because they despise anything even remotely pro-Hindutva.
The people’s verdict was unequivocally for a BJP government led by Devendra Fadnavis but ditched by Sena in a conspiracy to keep BJP out of power. In such an atypical situation, it is not only impractical to expect BJP to let go of opportunities to be in power because it won’t be “in good taste.” But, it would have been stupid to get perturbed by the narrative of their vile, immoral, and cunning rivals.
What did BJP do? It outsmarted and outplayed the opponents in their own game. It is utterly hypocritical to blame the BJP for “not playing fair” when the game itself is rigged. The BJP is well within its moral, political, and legal rights to form the government if it can prove the numbers on the floor of the assembly.