Gaanduon tumhe salaam
Regional forces’ avarice and Modi-Shah game plan
Bal Thackeray once wrote an edit in the Dopahar ka Saamna, the Shiv Sena organ titled “Gaanduon tumhe salaam” chiding journalists for their lack of spunk. If he were alive today he might perhaps say the same to his Shiv Sainiks and their commander in chief Bal’s youngest son Udhav.
It’s been close to a month since the results of the Maharashtra Assembly were declared with BJP and allies winning 122 seats of the 288 in the legislature and the roaring tiger of Shiv Sena around 80. Simultaneously Congress won 42 and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) 41. Conventional wisdom had it that the BJP would return meekly to its NDA ally, smoothen its ruffled feathers and invite it to join the NDA government in the state. But none of this happened, the BJP continues to rub the Tiger’s tail in the mud and the Tiger with its tail between its legs continues to say ‘meeow,meeow’.
The BJP showed the Sena the door on the penultimate day of filing nominations, divorcing its quarter century old Hindutva partner and dashing Udhav’s hopes of leading the NDA to victory and assuming the chief minister’s chair. The Sena then went into an assault mode and equated the ruling BJP to Emperor Aurangzeb’s treacherous general Afzal Khan whom Shivaji Maharaj ultimately beat at the game and stabbed to death. The message was clear that for the Sena Prime Minister Narendra Modi embodied the much hated Mughal Emperor and his lieutenant Amit Shah symbolized Afzal Khan. All along though the lone Shiv Sena minister in Modi’s government Anant Geete refused to take the hint and continued to head an insignificant central ministry of heavy industries. He has remained impervious to any hints to date even after the BJP actually stabbed the Sena in the back by winning over Suresh Prabhu through the lure of Railway ministry.
This round is Afzal Khan’s and the Tiger has meekly twisted its tail between its legs and is now bleating like an orphaned lamb. Udhav has not learnt any lessons to date. Even now he wants to eat his cake and have it too. The Sena has claimed the position of the Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra assembly by virtue of being the second largest party in the state legislature, while Geete hasn’t budged. It is either that Udhav has now very little control on the vaulting ambition of his MPs, MLAs and cannot persuade them to stop hankering after power or else he too is party to the machinations and dying for a toe hold in the ruling dispensation. Udhav’s desperation only evokes pity for the poor soul has not even been able to think straight from the day the results were announced.
Actually Modi and Shah have never hidden their agenda—the BJP rule all over the country. They have successfully finished off the Congress party and they presume that they will automatically fill up the vacuum created by the absence of the Congress everywhere. The Modi-Shah vision is not limited to the Congress party alone. Their dream is to emerge as the Congress of 1950s and early 60s, sans its ideology and programmes, when there was no party other than the Congress in people’s perception which could rule the country.
The main target of Modi-Shah is not the Congress alone, it includes the regional parties which had become indispensable component of the ruling dispensation for almost quarter of a century now. Till only the other day Arun Jaitley and LK Advani were happy that the politics of the country was becoming bipolar with BJP leading one pole and the Congress another. Modi-Shah duo is out to prove they can do better and are frenetically working at ushering in one party rule in India once again. The irony is that the regional forces from Shiv Sena to Lok Jan Shakti Party to People’s Democratic Party to MIM all in their avarice for a few crumbs are acquiescing in and aiding the duo to achieve this.