What does Uddhav Thackeray see coming up?
The chief minister Uddhav Thackeray's caution that the defectors won't get what they wished for, can be seen as an effort to alienate the gullible in the Maha Vikas Aghadi from the BJP's wooing
In a two-part interview with party mouthpiece Saamna, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray offered a creamy topping to a series of lengthy talks by three senior leaders of Maharashtra that covered the recent political history. Thackeray's predecessor and opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis started it late June. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) boss Sharad Pawar followed next month and Thackeray completed the series last weekend. The open–ended talks, especially by Fadnavis and Pawar, made some revelations against each other, but Thackeray played patiently delivering caution to both the opposition and warring Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partners.
While Fadnavis and Pawar talked about how their respective parties were in talks for forming the government even before the MVA came into being last year, Uddhav Thackeray said he was firm in the saddle, driving from the front with the NCP-Congress seated in the back. The CM challenged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to trigger the collapse of his government while he was talking to Saamna editor and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, the common interviewer between him and Pawar. And in the same breath, Thackeray said the future of his government did not depend on the opposition. If it is so, then, do the factors within MVA endanger the Thackeray government?
We will have to interpret Thackeray's caution, though generalised but applicable to the leaders in the MVA (including the Shiv Sena), who may be thinking of switching sides. While responding to a question whether 'Operation Lotus' would succeed in Maharashtra, Thackeray told Raut that he couldn't predict about it, but challenged the BJP to do it. He also said that no leader has reached the top or became a CM after defecting to powerful parties. "What is it that they don't get in their party that makes them leave? Such kind of breaking of parties is driven by nothing but the use-and-throw motive," the CM said, adding that the defectors were made to carry the palanquin they never get to ride on. Then he said he wouldn't oppose the switch-over if the turncoat really got what he wished for from his new party. "Also remember that the political careers of such turncoats come to an end after some time. What remains important throughout is the ideology of the parties," he said.
Thackeray said in forming the MVA he did not defect to any other party, but joined hands with others because he had realised the futility of being a BJP ally. "I was with them (the BJP) with a certain purpose. But then I realised how hollow their purpose was. I reiterate that it never did occur to me in my dreams that I would become CM. But since I am Maharashtra's CM now, I'm bound by the task of fulfilling people's dream," he said.
Seeing the future
Why did Thackeray sound such a caution? Does he have any inkling that the BJP might be luring some leaders from the NCP, Congress and his own Shiv Sena? Don't his thoughts appear prophetic if we consider them with regards to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and the speculations doing the rounds about Maharashtra? We may say so, because Thackeray did say he looked at things with 'durdrishti' - the approach that can help understand what would be needed in the future. This particular response came when he was asked about the states mired in political turmoil and external affairs with China, which has promised good investment in Maharashtra.
Summing up Thackeray's various statements in the weekend interview, one can fairly say that he has been left with no choice but to accept the challenges that the CM of a tripartite government faces. And those intensified against the backdrop of the novel Coronavirus pandemic. He is also out to prove his supremacy one way or the other to the MVA partners, but in doing so, he has complimented MVA architect Sharad Pawar, who apparently has pledged Thackeray all his acumen to tide over the difficulties that he (Thackeray) may face in the future. Thackeray has phrased all his expressions to be read between the lines, with the all-important hotline with Prime Minister Narendra Modi still being kept open. He hasn't said a word against the PM, but used sharp intended puns to take a dig at his favourite whipping boy Fadnavis and home minister Amit Shah, the duo he held responsible for the pre-MVA episode.
Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore Send your feedback to email@example.com
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