Dharmendra Jore: What lies behind the line of separation?
As sainiks await a divorce decree, the Sena and BJP are most unlikely to part ways in the real sense
The separation has been announced. The formal divorce is awaited. People say there could be an out of (public) court settlement, though the estranged partner says there will be no rolling back on the decision that has been announced to the extended family. Meanwhile, the two warring partners continue to share the roof under which they have been staying. The reason for the estrangement of one partner is the smaller compartment that he found very uncomfortable for living. He feared that he could be thrown out. So, he decided it was better to move out in protest, keeping his pride intact.
That's the Shiv Sena and BJP's love story for us. Since every love story must have its villain, a dramatic change in the three-decade-old relationship was blamed on Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. BJP president Shah fanned the Modi wave so ferociously that Sena was dropped like a hot brick. But BJP fell short of stabilising a minority government in Maharashtra. Strategists backed the old partner and won its support, but the deal they struck with the Sena didn't satisfy Uddhav Thackeray. In the past three years, Thackeray's rants haven't moved BJP an inch. Every time Thackeray warned BJP of dire consequences, it wasn't the partner but opposition parties that questioned his pact with it, saying, "If you are so angry and unhappy, why can't you quit the government in the state and centre?" Thackeray's unwavering response was, "I shall when the proper time comes."
Keeping options open
The Sena president announced a break-up suddenly amidst incessant threats of doing so, because of weary sainiks, who needed to be injected with some adrenaline when opposition parties have taken to streets against the BJP. The Sena wants to build a stand-alone image when all others opposed to the BJP are gathering resources and courage to take on the party. On Republic Day, 18 parties staged a symbolic unity march in Mumbai to celebrate the Constitution, and thwart threats if any from BJP, to amend the sacrosanct document.
Sena stayed away from the march despite getting invitations from like-minded organisers. This means that Thackeray is not willing to be associated with any other major party, except the BJP. The Sena and BJP may fight separately but should be seen joining hands to share power.
Thackeray has enemies in BJP marked. He doesn't get tired of mentioning a 56-inch chest and a certain medieval invader whenever he launches attacks on the rulers. People in politics say this way Thackeray serves the sainiks' hyper ego by targeting super powers in the country. And as this act gets him bigger TRPs, he also manages to cosy up to Modi-Shah baiters in the BJP. Politics may change any moment. Thackeray's resolve of going solo in the general and assembly elections should be seen as a long-term investment, only if he wishes to not break it very soon. He should not fret and fight it out to get Sena in a better position to bargain, or simply sit in opposition. He should remember that each sainik is waiting for the break-up announcement to turn into a divorce decree instead of a jumla.
Pawar yet again
While Thackeray knits the Sena fabric together, Sharad Pawar will take up the proposal of forming an anti-BJP front of all major parties to Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday. A pilot took off in Mumbai on January 26 wherein leaders of 18 national and regional parties took part. State Congress leaders took some time to decide on participating in an event that was ideated by Pawar's NCP, which to the chagrin of Congress, had hijacked a joint-event in Nagpur, last December. They feared Pawar would walk away with the limelight this time as well. But Gandhi's intervention worked when told by the Pawar that the protest march wouldn't be complete without the Congress. The president is said to have sent his confidante and Lok Sabha MP from Maharashtra, Rajeev Satav, the party's secretary in-charge, to take charge of the situation in Mumbai. Satav joined hands with NCP legislator Jitendra Awhad to organise the event and address the media.
What surprised many was the bonhomie that Pawar showcased with a long-time detractor in the Congress. Forgetting all serious differences he shares with the (Radhakrishna) Vikhe-Patil family, the NCP boss went all the way to the Congress leader's residence where leaders of a proposed anti-BJP front had gathered. Rivalries in the ranks of parties that will constitute a larger opposition front at the national and state levels should keep in-house arbitrators busy and at the same time offer BJP an opportunity to divide and rule. Expect more of this to come very shortly.
Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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