‘BJP In Maharashtra Did Exactly What It Had Slammed Uddhav For’

Vistasp Hodiwala, an advertising professional based in Mumbai, says BJP has kept its alliance partners on their toes, and will cut them to size at an opportune time. His views:

The situation in Maharashtra politics, as it exists now, has evolved from a tragedy into a terrible farce. If there was any sliver of doubt remaining in anyone’s mind about the naked opportunism that has possessed the state of Maharashtra (except I may add, the ideologically-driven multitude), that has been surgically removed with this unalloyed stroke of hubris that comes with a belief in their own infallibility. The real question to ask would be what constitutes that multitude in terms of sheer numbers?

In some sense, the BJP has gone and done exactly what they had earlier accused the erstwhile Shiv Sena of. They have gone and allied with a party with which they have zero ideological ground to share. Just how this will play out against the backdrop of unbridled cynicism within the citizenry is impossible to make sense of at this early stage.

The other question is, ‘are they’: that is, is the Shiv Sena cadre still with Uddhav Thackeray? Or, is that what we would like to believe, given our biases?

This may well be true but that would be a conclusion to be drawn after someone has toured the state and gotten a sense of the voters’ pulse. Uddhav does have a lot of goodwill in many parts of Maharashtra, and, as has been seen in the past, the ‘aam aadmi’ does not take kindly to outright betrayals (in this case, the blow delivered to the son of a man they have adored); but we have no empirical evidence at the moment to make hardcore conclusions.

What can be safely concluded, though, is that Eknath Shinde’s clout and position within the alliance is no longer on rock-solid footing, as it was even a couple of months ago. Perhaps, the BJP’s grand strategy is to keep its allies on their toes and cut them to size when the opportunity presents.

ALSO READ: ‘Uddhav Has Gained Public Sympathy And Support’

To his credit, Uddhav had realised this and thought the better of aligning with them; but, that did not come about without significant damage to his own party.

Will Shinde implode?

Well, I am sure he knows he is certainly not getting another shot at being the chief minister in a year’s time. There is just too much competition. And that would probably make his own position shakier even within his own splinter party. Insecurity can make leaders do strange things; hence, we will just have to wait and watch from here on. 

As for Sharad Pawar, let’s be honest. Pawar is a tenacious politician and a canny fighter, but the man is not getting any younger. When the chips are down, day-to-day politics can be an exhausting affair. However, what Pawar does have as formidable support are two leaders within the party who are not just ideologically driven (read secular), but, also, extremely combative when it comes to taking the BJP on in its own backyard.

In Amol Mitkari (the state NCP general secretary) and Jitendra Ahwad (the national general secretary), Pawar has two individuals who can form the core of a new NCP. The real strength will be in shaping the party in the image of Supriya Sule, who, I personally believe, is the politician to watch out for. She has the smarts and the empathy needed to be a long-distance-runner, like her father, and she has only just begun.

So, what about the ordinary folks of Maharashtra? Are they sick and tired of this brazen power-grab?

Yes and no! In an increasingly polarised world of voters, the ordinary citizen has become a bigger trapeze artist than a politician. They can find ludicrous justifications in why their leaders do the things they do and make peace with all of it in a heartbeat! They may be tired and cynical, but most of them still cannot let go of their outdated ideological opportunism even in the face of clear, personal and institutionalised perfidy.

One can only hope that they are sick and tired enough to teach these worthies a lesson they won’t ever forget. But, I won’t be holding my breath on it! 

The narrator is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of a Mumbai-based advertising agency and a partner and mentor at another digital start-up

As told to Amit Sengupta

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