The Economic Survey Report tabled by the legislature recently revealed the shocking truth behind the complacent and grossly out-of-date assumptions about the state that we have been desperately holding on to. But as the state speedily plummets to new lows, the ruling Congress-NCP partnership is in shambles, with the recent last-minute desertion of the NCP for the zilla parishad presidential elections having hit the nail on the proverbial coffin.
The principal Opposition of the BJP-Shiv Sena too has selectively aligned with the NCP to capture seats of power. While the political heavyweights spend all their time playing the wily game of numbers and shifting allegiances, these other numbers tell a bleak story of neglect and negative growth in the state.
The recent exchange of barbs between the state unit chiefs of the Congress and NCP leaders have exposed the sad truth about politics today - the number game has taken precedence over any need whatsoever to honour political ideologies or doctrines. All the avowals and manifestos are sacrificed at the shaky altars of power, within weeks after elections.
While Congress leaders grumbled that the NCP had gone back on its word by aligning with BJP and Sena in a majority of districts during the elections for zilla parishad office bearers, NCP spit venom over what it perceived was the Congress Party's attempt to keep the party way from the seats of power in Pune and Kolhapur.
New political allegiances look likely to crop up soon. Different parties -- national or regional -- have hitherto resigned themselves to playing second fiddle to Big Brother Congress, but all that looks set to change soon.
Leaders of Congress' allies have been speaking openly and boldly, in tones of defiance that would never be heard before. NCP Chief Sharad Pawar caused a furore when he said that the Congress would only have Rahul Gandhi to blame if it fared poorly in the UP Assembly elections.
Once the allies found their lost voice of protest, there was no turning back or toning it down. Soon, TMC Chief Mamata Bannerjee flexed her muscles and forced the PM to sack Dinesh Trivedi. Now, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayansingh Yadav is dropping hints at early polls for the Lok Sabha.
Emboldened, Pawar soon vented spleen again, at the PM this time, saying he was pained by Singh's remark in the Lok Sabha that coalition partners were giving him trouble. For all his political wiliness, he failed to realise that Singh's barb was aimed at the TMC chief.
With so much dissent brewing, there is a definite possibility of a third front emerging in time for the next Lok Sabha elections, with all of Congress' friends-turned-foes joining forces to keep the party at bay. Insiders have been whispering that Pawar was the guiding force behind SP's electoral victory against the Congress, BSP and BJP in Uttar Pradesh. And Pawar appears to have found an apt pupil in Akhilesh Yadav, who has reportedly been taking lessons from him in the fine art of backroom politics and political scheming, in his frequent visits to New Delhi.
There are other parties which have not minced their words about their disgruntlement with the Congress Party. Leading from the front is, of course, Mamata Bannerjee, and following close on her heels is Tamilnadu CM Jayalalitha and her party AIADMK, who were lukewarm allies to begin with.
A candidate who is likely to jump off the BJP bandwagon to join this new front is Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, who was never really broken into the BJP mould, and has always struggled to accept the terms and conditions laid down by the saffron party. Recently, he almost forced BJP to support his Janata Dal candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections.
Back home, CM Prithviraj Chavan seems to be struggling to keep the party afloat, as it sinks in the thick mire of scams. With their strained relationship, the Congress and NCP look unlikely to join hands and fight the approaching elections to five municipal bodies - Bhivandi Nizampur, Malegoan, Latur, Parbhani and Chandrapur. The state chiefs of the parties have hinted as much.
According to a senior Congress minister, the NCP will lose no time to align itself with the third front and take advantage of the current political scenario, with the Congress having reached its nadir. The BJP, in the mean time, is busy dousing the fire of internal feuds, nation-wide as well as in state units. The recent polls to civic and local bodies have clearly shown that the Sena has no ambition beyond Mumbai and Thane. So who will save Maharashtra? Amidst all this mayhem, the bleeding state has little chance of recovering its speedily declining fortunes.
-- The writer is Political Editor, MiD DAY