BJP’s problem is un-settled Maharashtra

Date:

(Dr Pentapati Pullarao)

Maharashtra is one of the problem states for BJP in the 2024 elections.  In 2019, BJP alliance got 41 out of 48 MPs in Maharashtra. But the same success for BJP looks difficult for the party in Maharashtra, as there were political disturbances and old power equations have dis-appeared and for the first time in 30 years, new ones have been formed. Maharashtra is the second largest state in India and has the Mumbai, which is the richest city. There are distinct regions in Maharashtra like Vidarbha, Konkan coast, Western Maharashtra with Pune as its capital and Marathwada region around Aurangabad.   

In 1995, the Shiv sena and BJP formed an alliance and came to power. In 1998, Sharad Pawar left the Congress and formed the NCP. In 1999, Maharashtra elections, Sharad Pawar joined with Congress, and they won the 1999 elections’ and formed a government. In 2014, the BJP-Shiv Alliance formed a government.

But in 2019, though BJP and Shiv Sena contested elections together, the Shiv sena dumped the BJP and formed a government with Sharad Pawar and Congress. This was a major disturbance in Maharashtra politics since there were two fixed alliances from 1995. The Shiva sena government led by Uddhav Thackeray fell in June 2022 and a splinter group of Shiv sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde formed a government with BJP. This was the second major disturbance. Then on July 2, 2023, Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar split he NCP and joined the Eknath Shinde government. This is the third major disturbance in Maharashtra. Between 1995 to 2019, there were two formations and really only two personalities, anomy Bal Thackeray of Shiv sena and Sharad Pawar. But now, in Maharashtra, there sui Sharad Pawar, the BJP leaders, the Congress leaders, Ajit Pawar of NCVP and Eknath Shinde of Siova sena.

Political disruption in Maharashtra: Though “disruption “means destruction and breaking of old rules, it is actually a very positive development in technology. The Biggest disruptor in technology was Steve Jobs, who created the “Apple Phone “. The apple phone was totally different from another phone till then. In fact, when Steve Jobs introduced the Apple Phone, many experts wondered who will buy it. But now the Apple Phone is the biggest commercial success, and it means that ‘disruption “can be big change and big gain. Similarly, in Maharashtra, we see total disruption in politics between 2019 to 2024. Prior to this “political disruption “, there seemed to be order and certainty in Maharashtra politics.

a. The BJP started allying with the Shiva Sena since 1989. The BJP and Shiv sena knew their strengths and weakness and their alliance helped each other.  Both the parties knew their place and respected each other.  Then kin 2019, this alliance broke up very bitterly.

b. The Shiv sena never tolerated any in-discipline. The MLAs and MPs had to bow before the leader and there was no toleration of any disrespect. After Uddhav Thackeray became chief minister in November 2019, he teamed the MLAs as his servants. The biggest complaint of the Shiv Sena MLAs was that they did not meet the chief Minister for30 months. It was a very big shock to Thackeray that 40 MLAs out of 56 left him. This was an un-expected and a big disruption.  

c. Sharad Pawar was lord and master of the NCP, which he formed in 1998. There was no rebellion against him. It seemed that for the rest of Sharad Pawar’s life, it would go on like that. Then suddenly in July 2023, his right hand and nephew Ajit Pawar split the NCP and took away most of the MLAs. This was a major disruption in Sharad Pawar party. 

Situation in Maharashtra: Many myths broker in Maharashtra.

a. The Shiv sena –BJP alliance was un-breakable. That was proven wrong since power was more attractive to Shiv Sena Thackeray than ideology.

b. There was also the myth that the Congress will nerve align with the Shiv Sena. But the Congress is now a strong alliance partner of Shiv sena.

c. Sharad Pawar leads his party with an iron hand. But that myth was broken as Ajit Pawar took away most of the MLAs. The closest associates of Sharad Pawar like Praful Patel and Chaggan Bhujbal just dumped Sharad Pawar.  

Disruption makes predictions impossible: When Steve Jobs designed the Apple phone, people wondered why anyone will buy a phone with a camera.  But the Apple phone eradicated great camera companies like Kodak, Cannon and others.  Similarly, the splitting of Shiv sena and NCP Sharad Pawar party was a brilliant success of the BJP. This totally disrupted Maharashtra politics and there is un-certainty in how much popular support does Uddhav Thackeray or Sharad Pawar have.  If the Uddhav Thackeray government had continued till today, the BJP would not have got more than 10 MPs in Maharashtra. The BJP engineered the most un-expected political disruption in Maharashtra. But the problem with such political disruption is that Maharashtra is politically disturbed. When there is chaos and un-certainty, a big the BJP cannot plan its moves.

The BJP has no way of knowing how strong the chief Minister Eknath Shinde is or Ajit Pawar. The un-certainty and disturbance in Maharashtra will settle down only if the BJP wins a majority of the 48 MPs.  Maharashtra is the land of Shivaji, Tilak, veer Savarkar and other great leaders. They are a very independent people, and they stick to themselves.  The 2024 parliament elections are a great test for Maharashtra.  

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The elections will determine whether Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar will survive.  There are too many players now in Maharashtra and their strength is un-tested. That is why the BJP has been unable to judge how well it will do in Maharashtra. The election results will determine whether the BJP has been able to survive the political disruption or not.  Large empires need stability to survive. Similarly, the BJP needed stability in Maharashtra. But it now faces the challenges of the disruption that it had engineered.

(Author is a Political and Economic analyst based in New Delhi)

1 COMMENT

  1. I read the article very informative analytical. The points under the subtle are important “Situation in Maharashtra: Many myths broker in Maharashtra”. Also has rightly mention that “The Shiv sena –BJP alliance was un-breakable. That was proven wrong since power was more attractive to Shiv Sena Thackeray than ideology.”

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