Congress balm relieves Shiv Sena from CAA headache

Updated: Feb 10, 2020, 08:21 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

MVA head Uddhav and the Congress have reached a compromise that would not unsettle the three-party formation anytime soon over ideological differences

Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray

Dharmendra JoreContrary to expectations of certain parties that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government would see a serious friction between the Shiv Sena and the Congress over passing a resolution against the CAA, MVA head Uddhav Thackeray and the national party leadership have reached a compromise that would not unsettle the three-party formation anytime soon over ideological differences.

Giving Uddhav great relief, the Congress said that it would not push him to get an anti-CAA resolution passed in the state legislature, obviously with an intention of peace-keeping when the BJP stands with the Raj Thackeray-led MNS, which is leading the charge against Uddhav's alleged departure from hardline Hindutva.

The Congress-led Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have already passed anti-CAA resolutions. Other non-BJP states Kerala and West Bengal have also joined the Congress governments in the protest. Senior Maharashtra Congress leaders wanted the Sena to support the protest despite the party voting in favour of the CAA in the Parliament. Uddhav has reiterated that the resolution was not needed because he would wait for the Supreme Court's verdict, and he has also promised that Maharashtra would not implement the proposed NRC because it would also affect Hindus.

The MVA formula
Uddhav's position is strategic; he did not upset the BJP at the Centre but also demanded certain changes to the CAA, which the home ministry did not accommodate. The CM sees the NRC not coming anytime soon and that lag can buy him time in the MVA, which is bound by a minimum common programme that allows the constituents to take positions suitable for their respective ideologies with an understanding that they don't prove detrimental to the formation.

While the MNS accused Sena of abandoning Hindutva and prepared itself for a massive morcha against illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the Sena stirred an annual Hindu-Muslim skirmish over Kalyan's Malanggad where the two communities have staked claim to the deity since 1982. Along with Sena, the workers of 16 rightwing bodies such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal led the agitation under the leadership of senior minister Eknath Shinde.

The Sena and MNS drawstrength from Kalyan and Thane.

Energy minister, Nitin Raut, was specific when he said, "There may be ideological differences between Sena and Congress-NCP but a minimum common programme that runs our government does not include the CAA. So, the Congress will not be pressing for a resolution in the cabinet or in the legislature."

The development might not augur well for the Congress leaders who want the Sena to oppose the law. These leaders belong to a section, which isn't part of the government, and are often seen endangering the longevity of the MVA by making politically incorrect statements and maneuvers. The Congress leaders in the government and party's majority MLAs want to reap the fruits of power. Primarily, these are the leaders and MLAs who revolted when the Congress high command was unwilling to go with the Sena.

While Uddhav and his Congress colleagues in the MVA have managed to convince the Congress high command, the NCP proved smarter in staying away from the Sena-Congress tussle. Instead, it has been taking more interest in the matters of governance. DCM and NCP leader, Ajit Pawar, seems racing against the time in taking decisions and reviewing policies, which, in fact is the CM's job. The Congress is lagging way behind its partners because even the most experienced ministers haven't shown a spark in the matters of governance and outreach with people-friendly decisions.

Another challenge
Even as bickering and infighting within the Congress are far from over, the limping party is faced with an additional challenge of keeping pace with the aggressive NCP, which bends the Sena its way. It seems that the Congress hasn't stopped grieving over the relegation, and not realised yet that it can make the MVA foundation stronger or break it into pieces.

If willing, the Congress could work wonders and extend the benefit to its vote bloc. But we do not see that happening when the mighty individuals in the Congress don't think of the party as their ailing parents and the masses as their own children.

In 70 days of his government, Uddhav has juggled his new career with raising an infant MVA, of course with valuable tips from Sharad Pawar. The CM has spent a lot of time explaining the unexpected break-up with the BJP and justifying his new friends. But the situation wherein he must speak Hindutva doesn't seem to change in the years to come.

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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