August 30, 2014

MAHASANGRAM - Part III

SENA CHIEF TALKS TOUGH AHEAD OF STATE POLLS

Courtesy: Afternoon
After being edged out by the mega coalition in Bihar and facing shock defeats in Karnataka and MP, see who is preaching the BJP now. It's their own ally and Sena pramukh Uddhav Thackeray. In an editorial in his party's mouthpiece - the Saamna, Uddhav has said that the saffron outfit's defeat in the by-elections needs to be a warning bell for the 'Mahayuti' or the Grand Alliance in Maharashtra. Despite of the coalition decimating the UPA in the big polls earlier this year, he cautioned that victory is in no way guaranteed in November state elections. As if to drive home his point, Thackeray junior has emphasized that the parameters that the voters keep in mind while electing their MLA is drastically different from those the consider before making their choice for the Lok Sabha elections. Taking a dig at his alliance partner, the Shiv Sena chief has said that the state cannot be won just by talking about the 'Modi wave'. Still coming to terms with a rather embarrassing defeat and the controversy regarding Rajnath Singh's family, Uddhav's veiled attacks were the last thing that the BJP would have liked to face. However, with the saffron outfit not very keen to play second fiddle in the assembly elections, the BJP's loss provided a nice opportunity for the Sena to hit back at its oldest partner and show them who is the boss, at least as far as the western state is concerned.

The relations between the saffron allies have been far from cordial in the last few months. So 'confident' had the cadre become after their resounding victory in the Lok Sabha polls that time back, some sections within the BJP had asked the party leadership to break off its ties with Matoshri and join hand with Raj Thackeray led MNS so that they could dictate terms. Though such plans did not materialize, Amit Shah's speech on his official appointment as the new president of the BJP where he said that his party would form the next government in Mumbai has certainly not gone well with the SS. Considering that Shah is extremely close to the PM, there is no doubt that his views on this matter have the endorsement from Modi too. This certainly puts the Sena in a tough position. After all, it has always been the dominant NDA partner as far as Maharashtra is concerned. By hitting out at the BJP, Uddhav is subtly trying to drive home an important point - the Shiv Sena is not Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) and he is certainly not Kuldeep Bishnoi. While the saffron outfit may have not adhered to the coalition dharma with its smaller ally in Haryana, the Sena is not going to allow itself to be 'bullied' by the BJP. With talks regarding seat-sharing arrangements coming up in the next few days, the Sena's aggressive stance is seen by many as a clear message to its saffron partner that it will lead the 'Mahayuti' in the state polls this November.

Though it did extremely well in the General polls, the real test for the tiger will be in the upcoming state elections. The regional player which has been put of power in the state for 15 years has been weakened following the split in its ranks after Raj Thackeray launched the MNS and the death of its founder and one of the most popular yet controversial politicians in the country - Balasaheb Thackeray in 2012. Ever since Uddhav was placed on the gaddi in 2013, there were rumors of discontent against his style of leadership which was termed as 'incompetent' and 'uninspiring'. Even before the May elections, a host of big leaders switched over to the UPA, claiming that the new party chief was not in touch with the Sainiks on the ground, an art that his father had mastered. Aware that the state elections are a 'Do or Die' battle for the political survival of both him and his outfit, Uddhav has broken off all traditions and has made it clear that he was ready to become the Chief Minister of Maharashtra if the SS-BJP alliance comes to power. While his father had the charisma to hold the Sena together from his base in Matoshri, the SS chief realizes that only power could give him the authority to prevent any further revolts within his outfit. With so much on the line, there is no way that he is going to be cowed down by the BJP in his own backyard. As the various partners within the 'Mahayuti' sit together to finalize the seat-sharing terms, Uddhav Tahackeray has, without mincing any words told the BJP to control is 'ambitions' and not to take the Shiv Sena lightly.

For more posts in this series: Mahasangram (Link)


IMAGES

(1) Courtesy: Afternoon 
Original: Maha Yuti seals seat-sharing pact (Link)