FINAL WORD IS OUT: BJP IS SHIV SENA’S BIG BROTHER IN MAHARASHTRA POLITICS

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

First the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, then the 2014 Maharashtra assembly polls and now the Maharashtra civic polls, they are point to this – that the ‘who is the big brother in Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Maharastra’ story that began with the Maharashtra assembly polls in October 2014, has seen its climax in place now and we can say the BJP is going to be the ultimate big brother in a BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra, if indeed the alliance continues.

The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance has ruled India’s richest civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the last 20 years but both parties were contesting these Maharashtra civic polls separately. Their electoral rivalry saw both parties placing bitter allegations and using choices of words to paint each other in a negative light.

But in the end, the BJP has emerged as the clear winner, not only in the BMC where it is neck to neck with Shiv Sena in the final tally but in the overall tally of the Maharashtra civic polls. The BJP has won 471 seats in all 10 municipal corporations where polls were held, gaining majority in 8 out of 10. It is over two fold jump from BJP’s tally of 205 in 2012 Maharashtra civic polls.

And it is stellar in the BMC, from 31 in 2012 to 82 in 2017.

As per the information available so far as the counting is still on in some places, while Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are the biggest losers, crashing down from 529 seats in 2012 from 207 seats in 2012, Shiv Sena, too, has been given a rough treatment by the voters. The party had got 227 seats in the 2012 Maharashtra civic polls which stands at 215 now. And though it has claimed that the BJP has not gone up in the BMC at Shiv Sena’s expense, its marginal rise, from 75 seats in 2012 to 84 in 2017, is certainly not a consolation when seen in the context of the huge gains made by the BJP. Now, if the Shiv Sena has to continue with its run in the BMC, it will have to go with the BJP, who claims support of four independents, to cross the majority mark of 114 in 227 members strong BMC. And it will certainly be on BJP’s terms now.

But the Shiv Sena setback story had begun much before.

THE 2014 SCRIPT REPEATED

The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance for the Maharashtra civic polls got the same fate, in the same manner, as it had happened before the 2014 assembly polls. Based on its performance in the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in Maharashtra, the BJP was demanding 114 seats to contest out of BMC’s 227 seats and was not ready to go down below 105 seats. The Shiv Sena, citing 2012 BMC results, when the Shiv Sena had won 75 seats, contesting on 135 seats, more than double of the BJP’s score of 31 wins, refused to compromise. The BJP then had contested on 63 seats. The Shiv Sena didn’t accept the BJP’s demand and instead chose to split the alliance that was in place since 1997.

THE 2014 FIASCO

2014 saw the Shiv Sena splitting its decades old alliance with the BJP to save its ‘big brother’ status and then rejoining the BJP in a humiliating setback. Out of NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena, the biggest setback went to Shiv Sena. It was the biggest loser in spite of registering growth, in seats and in vote share.

For just 5 seats, the Shiv Sena lost the ‘big brother’ or senior ally tag in Maharashtra, and that too, by a huge margin. Though it was the second largest party in Maharashtra assembly, their 63 seats were nowhere near to the BJP’s 122 seats, given the fact that the BJP had been the junior partner of the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and was ready to compromise even during the last assembly polls in October 2014, agreeing to contest on lesser number of seats than the Shiv Sena in the failed seat-sharing talks. The BJP, with 15 assembly constituencies, had won more seats even in Mumbai than the Shiv Sena’s 14 seats.

The BJP had performed exceedingly well in the Lok Sabha elections cornering maximum number of Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra that sends 48 members to the parliament and therefore its demand didn’t seem misplaced. In 2014 the LS polls, the BJP had won 23 seats with 27% vote share while the Shiv Sena had 18 seats with 21% vote share. It was a considerable improvement for both. The BJP had taken up its tally from 9 LS seats and 19% vote share in 2009 to 23 seats in 2014. The Shiv Sena also did very well taking up its tally from 10 seats to 18 seats with 17% vote share in 2009.

But the Shiv Sena’s performance was not at par with its junior ally of the past, when seen in comparison with the BJP’s rising graph in the state. Even in the perceived citadel of the Shiv Sena, in Mumbai, the BJP, with 15 assembly constituencies, won more seats that the Shiv Sena’s 14 in the 2014 assembly polls. In 2009 assembly polls, the junior partner of the alliance had won two seats more (46) than the Shiv Sena’s 44 seats. And when it simply outperformed everyone in the Lok Sabha polls registering 8% increase in vote share and over 150% increase in seats, it was right to expect for more.

The BJP had a symbolic edge over the Shiv Sena with 2009 assembly election results but the 2014 LS polls outcome placed it much ahead of all others, including the Shiv Sena. The Shiv Sena had to realize it and should have appreciated when the BJP didn’t ask for sky-high price for its electoral edge. But alleging the BJP of the ‘big brother’ attitude, the Shiv Sena refused to budge and the seat-sharing talks and thus the alliance collapsed.

THE HUMILIATING RETURN

The BJP went on to form the government in Maharashtra in 2014, even if it was 23 seats short of the majority mark in the 288-member strong Maharashtra assembly. The NCP offer of unconditional outside support had taken whatever sheen the Shiv Sena was left with in a post-election scenario of the hung assembly.

In the 2014 assembly polls, the BJP won more than what the Shiv Sena was offering, 119 seats. Had it been in the alliance, even if with 5 more seats, BJP would not have been able to win so many seats. What BJP was demanding was modest. What Shiv Sena’s refusal gave it was grand. And what Shiv Sena lost was grander, costing it the ‘senior alliance partner’ position, and the leverage in the national politics.

So much so, that in order to remain relevant in Maharashtra politics, the Shiv Sena had to compromise and join the Devendra Fadnavis government in December 2014. But the political flow since then shows their hearts could never meet. Even if it rejoined the alliance, the Shiv Sena always acted like a squabbling partner, always sparring in public with its pet line that ‘the BJP should not take the Shiv Sena’s support for granted’ and its ministers in the alliance government were always ready to submit their resignations. It shows the Shiv Sena could never make itself comfortable with the fact that it is now the BJP that will dictate the terms. Even today, a day that proved the meteoric rise of the BJP in Maharashtra politics, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray went on to claim that not just the next Mumbai mayor but even the next Maharashtra chief minister will be from the Shiv Sena.

©SantoshChaubey

SHIV SENA AND BJP SHOULD SEPARATE NOW

The move which the BJP sees as a masterstroke – the move which threatens prime minister Narendra Modi’s life as he said in an emotional speech – the move behind which the whole BJP government stands united and is trying every possible measure to make it a success – the move for which the whole nation has stood painstakingly (or painfully) in queues day in and day out – the BJP’s ally and its partner in the Maharashtra government, the Shiv Sena, is seen standing with Mamata Banerjee opposing that very move – against that masterstroke and is going to corner the government on the demonetization issue along with the larger opposition.

It is when Congress, Left and Arvind Kejriwal decided not to join the anti-demonetization march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Mamata Banerjee on the issue.

The Shiv Sena has criticised the Narendra Modi government on withdrawing Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes. Its 21 parliamentarians marched along with the TMC’s 44 MPs and others including Omar Abdullah and AAP’s Bhagwant Mann. The Shiv Sena says demonetization has gone beyond the politics of government and its rivals and the party believes that this step is anti-people and has trapped the common man’s life in a tight spot.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

MAHARASHTRA ASSEMBLY ELECTION 2014: WHY SHIV SENA IS THE BIGGEST LOSER

Out of NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena, the biggest setback goes to Shiv Sena. It is the biggest loser in spite of registering growth, in seats and in vote share.

Many in the party would be rightly thinking, that just for 5 seats, they lost the ‘senior ally’ in Maharashtra tag, and that too, by a huge margin. Yes, they are the second largest party in Maharashtra assembly but their 63 seats are nowhere near to BJP’s 122 seats, given the fact that BJP had been the junior partner of Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and was ready to do so even this time, agreeing to contest on lesser number of seats than Shiv Sena in the failed seat-sharing talks.

And BJP had reasons and rights to ask for so, because it was not too outrageous a demand. It had performed exceedingly well in the Lok Sabha elections cornering maximum number of Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra that sends 48 members to the parliament.

In 2014 LS polls, BJP had won 23 seats with 27% vote share while Shiv Sena had 18 seats with 21% vote share. It was a considerable improvement for both. BJP had taken up its tally from 9 LS seats and 19% vote share in 2009 to 23 seats in 2014. Shiv Sena also did very well taking up its tally from 10 seats to 18 seats with 17% vote share in 2009.

But Shiv Sena’s performance was not at par with its junior ally of the past, when seen in comparison with BJP’s rising graph in the state, when it had to be surpassing what BJP achieved. Even in 2009 assembly polls, the junior partner of the alliance had won two seats more (46) than Shiv Sena’s 44 seats. And when it simply outperformed everyone in the Lok Sabha polls registering 8% increase in vote share and over 150% increase in seats, it was right to expect for more.

BJP had a symbolic edge over Shiv Sena with 2009 assembly election results but the 2014 LS polls outcome placed it much ahead of all others, including Shiv Sena. Shiv Sena had to realize it and should have appreciated when BJP didn’t ask for sky-high price for its electoral edge.

But, their ego had to blind them all. Alleging BJP of the ‘big brother’ attitude, they tried to act ‘bigger brother’ and the talks collapsed.

This was when BJP had Narendra Modi and the Modi Factor advantage as well, that drove home a clear majority to a non-Congress party for the first time in electoral history. Probably, Shiv Sena strategists had become so convinced of the hypothesis that Modi Wave had receded based on the bye-election outcomes, that saw that all the ‘green’ was going to adore them only. But Maharashtra and Haryana (in Haryana, BJP got clear majority and is going to form the government there, from 4 seats in 2009 to clear majority in 2014) tell Modi Wave is still very much here.

It was for Modi Wave only, that BJP, despite not having as strong an organizational structure in whole Maharashtra as Shiv Sena had, could outperform so brilliantly its ‘senior partner’ from the recent past.

So brilliantly, that Shiv Sena is now slated to become BJP’s junior partner in Maharashtra.

So brilliantly, that BJP is now dictating the terms, even if it is 23 seats short of the majority mark. The NCP offer of unconditional outside support has taken whatever sheen Shiv Sena was left with in a post-election scenario of hung assembly.

BJP won more than what Shiv Sena was offering, 119 seats. Had it been in the alliance, even if with 5 more seats, BJP would not have been able to win so many seats. What BJP was demanding was modest. What Shiv Sena’s arrogance gave it was grand. And what Shiv Sena lost was grander, costing it the ‘senior alliance partner’ position, and the leverage in the national politics.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MAHARASHTRA POLLS: BJP RETAINS RPI(A) EYEING DALIT VOTE SPLIT

As the two main political alliances forming the broad spectrum of the state politics in Maharashtra got over, with NCP quitting the senior partner Congress and BJP walking out of the Combine with Shiv Sena, the rush was to forge new alliances, to retain smaller allies, to find new allies.

Congress immediately announced Samajwadi Party coming on board with it, but a day later we came to know it was a premature announcement.

The BJP-Shiv Sena split saw increased bonhomie between Raj Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray but there is no definitive word on the political rivals from the Thackeray family coming together.

BJP retained three of the four smaller parties of the Mahayuti, the grand alliance that contested the Lok Sabha elections, Raju Shetti’s Swabhimani Paksh, Mahadev Jankar’s Rashtriya Samaj Party and Vinayak Mete’s Shiv Sangram. These small parties carry significant electoral weight in different regional pockets of Maharashtra.

But the RPI(A)’s stand was not clear. Both, Shiv Sena and BJP, were trying to woo Ramdas Athavale given the significant chunk of Dalit votes in the state.

Dalits are around 12% of the population of the state and have been a traditional vote bank of Congress-NCP.

An alliance with RPI(A), a previous Congress-NCP ally, fragmented the Dalit votes in Western Maharashtra, Marathwada and Mumbai, regions where Dalits are a major electoral force.

The Dalit vote fragmentation led the BJP-Shiv Sena Combine win many seats that it had lost in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

And so there was a rush to win over RPI(A) and the BJP finally won it.

True, there are other Dalit political outfits in Maharashtra including three other factions of Dr. BR Ambedkar’s RPI (led by Dr. Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar), but RPI(A) is the largest one of this divided mess.

And it will certainly help the BJP in diverting more votes away from Congress and NCP, given the fact that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) got 4% of the Dalit votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE SHIV SENA SNUB TO THE BJP: THE CONTEXT OF IT

It was expected but it happened sooner than expected – the Shiv Sena snub to the Narendra Modi led National Democratic alliance government, just a day after the bye-election results were announce, may well be the beginning of the dilution of the perception that ‘this government intends to perform and is here for a long haul’, if left unchecked.

BJP failed to live up to the expectations in the bye-elections held in Bihar (10 assembly seats), Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka (3 seats each) and Punjab (2 seats) after its spectacular performance in the Lok Sabha elections this year.

It was an unacceptable 7 seats for the BJP. Its Punjab ally SAD won 1. Bihar, the biggest theatre this time with 10 seats in the election fray, and the centrestage of the debate on the ‘bye-elections being referendum on Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar-Lalu Yadav-Congress combine exercise’ certainly let down Narendra Modi and Bhartiya Janata Party because the BJP had performed exceeding well in these assembly segments in the Lok Sabha polls and had won 6 out of these 10 in the last assembly polls. And even these 4 wins are not convincing. The BJP could retain the Hajipur seat with a victory margin of just over 6000 votes while the winning vote margin in Banka was miserable 711 votes.

Even in other states, in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, the BJP lost its strongholds, Aagar in Madhya Pradesh and Bellary Rural in Karnataka.

Within three months of the May 16 jubilation, it is a pinching letdown, given a bigger bypoll is slated the next month and four major assembly polls are due in the subsequent months.

The May 16 outcome had given the BJP an overwhelming majority and, theoretically, it didn’t need support from any other ally of the alliance. Practically, it went with the alliance sharing the portfolios with the alliance partners in the council of ministers. Yes, but the ‘overwhelming majority’ reflected when it didn’t allow any bargain and parties like the Shiv Sena had to accept the portfolio allocated after initial protests and sulking.

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