Apna Raasta Naapo

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आप इस गली से निकल जाओ” – one of them seems to be saying; while the other is supposedly replying “मैं क्यों जाऊं? आप यहां से जाओ

The BJPShiv Sena (SHS) alliance in Maharashtra is one of the most shameful political coalitions in India’s history. Let us look at some historical facts:

In the February-March 1995 elections, SHS came 2nd with 73 seats (16.39% vote share), while BJP came 3rd with 65 seats (12.8%). Though Congress was No.1 in terms of seats (80) and vote share (31%), the SS-BJP alliance formed the government with support of some independents, as Congress could not get support of 65 others which it needed to reach the majority mark of 145.

Being the larger partner, SHS got the Chief Minister’s post, which was held by Manohar Joshi for about 3 yrs. 11 months, and by Narayan Rane for about 8½ months.

It must be noted that SHS won 43.2% of the seats that it contested, while BJP won 56% – therefore, BJP had a much better “strike rate”.

In the 1999 elections, though the SHS-BJP alliance lost, BJP’s strike rate was 47.9%, and Shiv Sena’s was lower at 42.9%.

The alliance again lost the 2004 elections. Once again, BJP’s strike rate was higher at 48.6%, compared with Shiv Sena’s 40.5%.

The 2009 elections in Maharashtra were a disaster for the SHS-BJP alliance, but BJP’s strike rate of 38.7% was better than Sena’s 28.1%.

The 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections were held five months after BJP/NDA’s spectacular victory in the Lok Sabha elections. This time, the two parties contested separately (i.e., there was no pre-poll alliance). BJP’s strike rate of 46.9% (122 seats) was more than double that of Sena’s 22.3% (63 seats). BJP got a vote share of 31.2% in the seats it contested, while the Sena managed only 19.8%.

The parties forged a post-poll alliance to form the government, the second “saffron” government in the state’s history. Obviously, the Chief Minister was from the BJP – the then 44-year-old Devendra (Dev) Fadnavis.

In the last five years, there was a strategic shift in the alliance – while the Sena used to be the “senior partner” until 2014, it was forced – due to its poor performance compared with BJP in 2014 –  to accept the “junior partner” position. The SHS:BJP seat sharing ratio was 183:105 in 1990 as well as in 1995. Due to BJP’s better strike rate, it was changed to 161:117 in 1999, with 10 seats going to smaller allies. In 2004, it was 163:111, with 14 seats for smaller allies. In 2009, it was 160 for the Sena and 119 for the BJP, with 9 seats for smaller allies.

Due to many factors: (1) the 2014 results where BJP won 122 seats compared to Sena’s 63; (2) the stronger muscle-power of Amit Shah in political negotiations; (3) the popularity of PM Narendra Modi; and (4) the popularity of Dev Fadnavis; for the 2019 Maharashtra elections, the Shiv Sena had to reluctantly accept a 124:152 ratio in favour of BJP, with 12 seats for junior partners.

What were the results? BJP won 105 of the 152 seats it contested, with a strike rate of 69.1%, its best ever. SHS won 56 of its 124 seats, with a strike rate of just 45.2%.

So what’s all the fuss about?

It’s like Gurkeerat Singh Mann asking for an equal footing with Virat Kohli in the posters/promotional material for the IPL RCB team; or Vicky Kaushal asking for an equal prominence with Ranbir Kapoor in the posters/promotional material for the film Sanju, or even like J.P. Nadda asking for equal status with Narendra Modi in BJP’s posters.

Uddhav Thackeray’s demand for his 29-year-old son Aditya to become CM is like Sunil Gavaskar asking BCCI to make his son Rohan the captain of the Indian Cricket Team. First you have to qualify to be in the team, Mr. Aditya Thackeray, then you dream of becoming captain.

In the last six elections, BJP’s seat share has been 65, 65, 54, 46, 122 & 105 (average 76.2 seats); while Shiv Sena’s was 73, 69, 62, 45, 63 & 56 (average 61.3 seats). If you take just the last three elections, BJP’s average is 91 seats compared with Sena’s 54.7 seats. Obviously, Uddhav Thackeray is no fool. He woke up long back and smelled the coffee. He realises that his party will never be able to overtake BJP again, so he is playing the dirty game of asking for a 50:50 share in government, with a Sena CM for 2½ years.

Does anyone in their right mind believe that the Thackeray family’s Shiv Sena (56 seats), the Pawar family’s NCP (54 seats) and the Gandhi family’s Congress (44 seats) can form a stable government which will last five years? How will they share the CM’s post. For 20 months each? And how will they divide the portfolios? Unlike the central government, which has four powerful ministries (Home, Finance, Defence, External Affairs), a state government only has the first two!

I think the BJP should call the Sena’s bluff. Dev Fadnavis should resign. The SHS-NCP-INC combine will not be able to form a government; even if they do, it will not last more than 18 months. Let there be President’s Rule for some time. How does it matter? BJP will anyways rule by proxy.

BJP should fight the next elections alone, with smaller allies like RPI(A) and RSP; and not an untrustworthy bully like Shiv Sena. People will give BJP a mandate, as they would be sick of Sena’s childish tantrums.


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