The results from the local polls all around Maharashtra are in. The BJP has rocketed to the No. 1 position. I should keep stressing that the BJP was not just the No.4 party, but also a very distant No.4 at the grassroots in Maharashtra. It is a staggering success of 3 men each of whom contributed in equal measure.
First, there was the Modi charisma of 2014 that stormed Maharashtra.
Secondly, there was Amit Shah who took the big decision to snap ties with Shiv Sena just before the 2014 Assembly polls. The BJP had never contested in 172 out of the 289 seats. At many places, it did not have candidates or polling agents. The decision to go alone could easily have backfired. But Amit Shah made the right decision at the right time.
Thirdly, there was Devendra Fadnavis who worked hard and built up his image at the grassroots. His Jal Yukt Shivir program was appreciated at every level. People came out and contributed voluntarily to the project out of their own pocket, showing a tremendous level of confidence in the government. And don’t forget Fadnavis did it against all the odds, with an unhappy Shiv Sena forever snapping at his heels. Not to mention Pankaja Munde, who is clearly playing the OBC card against the Brahmin Chief Minister. But all the intrigue and conspiracy has clearly not affected Fadnavis image nor his performance and people have rewarded him richly.
As I said yesterday, if there is one big loser here, it is Shiv Sena. They have not won any fans by playing the double role of ruling party and opposition. To the public, this looks like the ultimate hypocrisy: too greedy to give up power and too cowardly to take responsibility.
The Shiv Sena is now stuck in a time warp, saying stupid things like this:
So the Prime Minister is coming to Mumbai to lay the foundation for a grand memorial to Chhatrapati Shivaji. And Uddhav Thackeray has nothing better to do than throw a tantrum over “respect”. What respect is he talking about? Does he remember the kind of language that Saamna and other Shiv Sena leaders have been using about the Prime Minister? And at the end of the day, politics is all about power.
Dear Shiv Sena, stop throwing tantrums. You don’t have the cards. Shiv Sena is now a distant No. 4 party in Maharashtra. They are now dependent on the BJP for crumbs. Even Shiv Sena knows that. So a couple of days after this tantrum, Uddhav decides tamely to attend the PM’s ceremony.
LOL! What extra “respect” did Uddhav get by crying like a child? LOL!
As usual, Shiv Sena achieved nothing by throwing a tantrum, except looking even more ridiculous than before.
The BJP’s big challenge in Maharashtra is now to “manage” the decline of the Shiv Sena. The BJP in the state is still a “work in progress” and the Shiv Sena still has just enough votes that NDA needs them to win elections. The Congress and NCP are still too strong for BJP to face them alone.
BJP has to now begin a process of dissolving Shiv Sena at the grassroots. The many ideological similarities between the two saffron parties make this relatively easy. It shouldn’t be hard to convince ground level cadres of Shiv Sena to put on a BJP cap : they don’t even need to change the color of the flag 🙂 🙂
In fact, Modi is doing exactly that right now. He is inaugurating the biggest ever tribute to Chhatrapati Shivaji and establishing BJP as the true claimant of the Maratha glory. The Shiv Sena may be named after the great ruler, but petty men such as Uddhav Thackeray do not deserve to claim his legacy.
The immediate challenge before BJP is the BMC. The BJP has indicated that the alliance will continue, but 50% of seats for BJP have to be the starting point. In fact, BJP should make an opening offer of 33% seats to Shiv Sena or less. Because seat shares should reflect the strength on the ground. As we saw in Chandigarh yesterday, the urban voter is still in no mood to humor the Congress. The battle for Mumbai is really between BJP and Shiv Sena. This may even be the right time for BJP to take the solo plunge in Mumbai.
If the Shiv Sena leadership does not recognize the realities on the ground, it is best for the BJP to work around them. I feel that Amit Shah is planning something similar to 2014: keep pretending till the last moment that BJP wants an alliance…and then ditch at the eleventh hour. Once BJP takes BMC, it may trigger an exodus of cadres from the Sena into the BJP. As for Uddhav and Aditya, the two Shehzadas at the top of the party, they can do what they do best : throw tantrums.