Intro: It has been just few days since the BJP broke up with the Shiv Sena (and the NCP with the Congress). But there is already a long list of people who have hopped on to the Modi bandwagon, with no instance of anyone leaving the BJP to join other parties.
In 1923, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru drew up a plan for electoral reforms in the Allahabad Corporation. It was generously garnished with quotations from a French Philosopher, Montesquieu bewildering—much to Nehru's irritation—those unfamiliar with him. (Many mocked Rahul Gandhi's “escape velocity of Jupiter” analogy; using unfamiliar references might be a family trait.)
I have no idea how acquainted Narendra Modi is with Montesquieu; I do know that he is thoroughly steeped in Kautilya, both with prescriptions of the Arthashastra and with the persona of the Mudrarakshasa.
It would be a trifling task to update the play for own times, would it not?
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) struck a pact with the Shiv Sena to bring down a mutual foe. But after Bal Thackeray's demise, his son, Uddhav, was moved to demand the top job in Maharashtra.
Having brought up Kautilya, let me quote the man himself. The seventh chapter of the Arthashastra is titled 'On the Six fold Strategy'. In its first section Kautilya numbers the virtues of the exemplary ally thus, “consistent, submissive, not prone to duplicity, eminent, and able to mobilise quickly.” Kautilya went on to add that, “Someone is an ally only to the extent that he provides assistance, given that providing assistance is the defining characteristic of an ally.”
By that definition the Sena ceased to be an ally when it started making demands rather than providing assistance. It meant that Sena could no longer play a role in Modi's long-term plan, which is to win the General Election-2019. With that goal always in mind, the BJP's current leadership has three specific objectives. First, it wants to be seen as the natural party of governance in states where it already plays a significant role. Second, it wants to be seen as the natural alternative in states where it has a presence but is not currently a major force. And third, it wants to establish a firm foothold in states where it is almost entirely absent as of 2014.
The BJP believes that it has little to lose from a loss of alliance with the Shiv Sena. Irrespective of what happens, Modi will continue as a Prime Minister with an unshakeable majority in the Lok Sabha. Fighting alone gives the BJP the chance to test its troops today, and then rework its tactics if necessary, before the big test in 2019.
The BJP can outflank the Sena, the Congress, and the National Congress Party (NCP) easily on specific issues of governance. It can also, justifiably, claim to be a party that backs achievers, rather than a dynastic party—which is exactly what these three parties happen to be.
Does that mean the BJP will form the next ministry in Maharashtra? No, of course not. For a start there is no chief ministerial candidate to lead its campaign, an essential feature of every successful BJP campaign, whether Vidhan Sabha polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Goa, or the General Election across India. These are early days but my impression is that none of the four forces—BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP—will win 145 seats (the barest of majorities in the 288-strong Vidhan Sabha). That said, the behaviour of local leaders suggests that there is a current in the BJP's favour. As I write it has been just few days since the BJP broke up with the Shiv Sena (and the NCP with the Congress). But there is already a long list of people who have hopped on to the Modi bandwagon.There has, as far as I know, been no instance of anyone leaving the BJP to join the other parties. And while the Shiv Sena and the NCP have also poached on others' turfs, there has been no reported case of anyone joining the Congress.
Please note that there is no ideology involved. Those that were members of the 'secular' Congress and the NCP yesterday are now queuing up to join the 'communal forces'. Kautilya, that supreme realist, would not have been surprised. As he expressed it succinctly in the sixth chapter of his masterwork, “Success is happiness”. Come counting day on October 19, which party will be happiest? The most successful one, of course!
-TVR Shenoy (The writer is a senior columnist)
Tectonic Change, Presidents Rule in the State
Intro: With the changed scenario, Maharashtra assembly elections have turned into a multi-cornered contest, with Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), two national parties testing their ground while Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will look for regional domination.
Maharashtra Asssembly elections are around the corner and State politics has seen a tectonic change in the last few days. The equations that were stable for more than two decades have changed forever. For the forthcoming Assembly elections, the 25 year old BJP-Shiv Sena alliance has come to an end on the issue of seat sharing. On expected lines, already strained Congress-NCP alliance has also collapsed. This has completely changed the complexion of Maharashtra politics and brought the State under President’s rule.