There is a lesson for the BJP in Maharashtra in the failure to retain ties with the Shiv Sena and the consequent arrangement to wrest power from it entered into by the Shiv Sena with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress which were ideologically poles apart from the Sena. There is no doubt that Shiv Sena was an exceptionally troublesome ally which was forever questioning BJP’s decisions at the central level. However, it did come round to sharing seats in a deal that ultimately failed at the altar of who would be chief minister. Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray had a one-point programme － to have his son, Aaditya, bereft of any experience of public affairs, anointed in the coveted seat even if it be for half the term. But the BJP not only rejected it but treated the issue with contempt, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis making it seem that it would be sacrilege to even think of a chief minister from the Sena. That angered firebrand Uddhav and led to his opening a dialogue with the wily Sharad Pawar and the equally crafty Sonia Gandhi who called the shots in their respective parties. Pawar and Sonia both had scores to settle with the BJP, especially with what BJP President Amit Shah had to do with pursuing cases against them and their cronies.
The decks have been cleared for a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government after a series of meetings between leaders of the three parties but while Aaditya is out of the picture, there is only broad agreement that the new chief minister would be a Shiv Sena nominee. However, the three parties have not been able to cover up the basic truth that the underlying motivation for this seemingly-unholy alliance is the naked pursuit of power. Sooner or later, the parties would have to go to the people and there, they may well end up on a collision course. Even if they maintain a modicum of unity, the BJP would be at an advantage with a distinctive agenda. The Shiv Sena would find it hard to seem credible and the Congress which has been sliding downhill would have little to show. Together, the three parties may have won a battle with the BJP but the war would be another matter. The Shiv Sena with the compromises it would have to make with its basic Hindutva philosophy would lose its raison d’etre and may well be mauled by the electorate. All in all, while the present may belong to the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine, the BJP could well be able to take revenge when the time for Assembly and then parliamentary election comes.
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