Mumbai, Nov 23 (IANS) The 12 crore hungry janata of Maharashtra and more around the country may never have expected to be served a “brand new alliance government” on their breakfast table on Saturday morning.
Following the normal routine, most people were planning to scan the newspapers and catch up a bit on the morning TV news, with a lazy weekend day before them.
This morning, all newspapers carried huge headline news on how Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray had emerged as the “unanimous consensus candidate for the post of Chief Minister” by its two new prospective allies – Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.
With the Bharatiya Janata Party maintaining a deafening silence since the past 3-4 days, the state was expecting the curtains to draw quietly and amicably on the month-long government formation drama which unfolded after the Assembly poll results came out on October 24.
Barely had people opened their groggy eyes at daybreak to read the top headlines, television channels suddenly started screaming the news that BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis had been sworn-in as Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party’s Ajit Pawar as the new Deputy CHief Minister at Raj Bhavan by Governor B.S. Koshyari.
Nobody, including top leaders of various parties, had the faintest clue as to what exactly happened, how, and the political machinations behind it to explain the circumstances resulting in a new government abruptly taking precedence over the states’ morning cuppa.
Gradually, the action shifted to the still-unborn ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ of the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Indian National Congress, which was preparing to stake claim to a new government, possibly on Saturday afternoon.
Instead, the three parties were embroiled in a public brawl with the BJP and its new-found friend, Ajit Pawar, who had apparently outsmarted one and all to corner all the glory solely for himself.
For the 53-year old Shiv Sena, largely a patriarchal outfit, born out of emotions on the ‘Sons of the Soil’, it seemed to have been unceremoniously dumped at the political cross-roads.
Once a much-feared and formidable political force which could shut and open Mumbai or the state with a wave of the hand of its founder, the late Bal Thackeray, presently, the party is in a situation where its legislators have to go into hiding for the party to maintain its sheer figures in the games of political upmanship.
After the demise of the Hindu Hridaysamrat, Bal Thackeray, his “remote-controlled” party has undergone a sea change – the most prominent being a Thackeray family member (Aditya Thackeray) who contested and won the assembly election, and a reluctant Uddhav himself preparing to don the now-elusive crown of CM.
The good old days of Thackeray senior’s era – when his home ‘Matoshri’ was the hub of national political activity, with all top political leaders routinely dropping in to meet and pay obeisance – are gone.
Now, Aditya Thackeray had to go through the dust and grime of campaigning for electoral politics, often skipping or seriously delaying his meals, while Uddhav Thackeray has been more out of ‘Matoshri’ to cobble up the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’.
With a prowling BJP on the loose, the Sena is facing a harrowing time protecting its legislators, who are being herded from place to place like sheep – once considered the tigers of the streets they roamed!
A party leader said that unless the Sena leadership does something drastic to return to earlier aggressive image, then it would remain at best a “spent force” struggling for breathing space among the existing big ticket parties.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])