With chief minister designate Devendra Fadanvis taking oath on Friday evening, Maharashtra joins the list of states ruled by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). With Maharashtra in its kitty, the BJP has established its political supremacy over the western part of the country and this will go down in the annals of the history as the ‘best ever performance’ of the party that was ‘destined’ to be ‘opposition party always’.
This October 31 is a historic day for BJP as a 44-year-old young, dynamic, studious, industrious and most understanding Devendra Fadanvis assumed the reins of the state ruled by the Congress party since its formation in 1960. He will be the fourth chief minister from Vidarbha and first from Nagpur- the headquarters of all encompassing Hindutwa movement in the country. His prede
cessors from Vidarbha included the late Marotrao Kannamwar, Vasnatrao Naik (who happened to be the longest serving chief minister) and his nephew Sudhakarrao Naik.
The swearing in ceremony to be held at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai Friday evening would be the most celebrated and star-studded event in the history of the state. Governor Vidyasagar Rao will administer the oath to Devendra and his team of ministers. The party has left no stone unturned to use this historic event to propagate its message of “Techno-Savvy, Progressive and Clean Maharashtra” underlining BJP’s ‘NaMo’ theme of ‘Sab ka Saath Sab ka Vikas’.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP National President Amit Shah, Central Ministers, Chief Ministers of BJP and NDA ruled states, Bollywood stars, sportspersons and industrialists, and above all 108 saints will be attending the swearing in ceremony marked by symbolism and glitter.
As expected the ‘hurt’ Shiv Sena alomost decided to stay away from the function as the BJP leadership failed to give ‘due respect’ to them and extending them an ‘honourable invitation’ to join the cabinet. Sena has been playing ‘blow hot blow cold’ with the BJP ever since the elections were declared in the state. At the last moment, a call from the BJP president Amit Shah chnaged scenario and ended the imapsse in this ‘love-hate’ relationship. Without joining the government, Shiv Sena chief joined the cenremony with his MLAs.
When the BJP has proved its metal in the Congress dominated politics of Maharashtra, the new surprising entrant in the state is All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen or AIMIM. The party that claims the legacy of Razakars of Nizam regime contested 24 seats in Maharashtra and won 2 out of them. Despite the ban from local police, MIM took out a victory procession at Aurangabad and some activists gave anti-Hindu slogans. Marathwada region was part of the erstwhile Nizam kingdom and has substantial Muslim population. People are hoping that the new government in Maharashtra will not tolerate the extremist instigations by the political forces like MIM. —Prasad Joshi
The BJP has decided to use this event to its fullest possible extent to establish its political superiority in the state and to gain confidence of the masses. With the announcement of Devendra Fadanvis as Chief Minister designate, the party has won half the battle. Devendra has a ‘clean’ image with no charge of corruption of any kind, he has proved his mettle as a legislator par excellence, and has fetched the largest ever victory to the party in the just concluded elections.
The BJP bagged 122+1 seats as against 63 of the Shiv Sena. This clearly indicates that the parting ways with the Sena, though at the last moment, helped the BJP to consolidate its strength and political clout in the state. The BJP snatched most seats from the Sena’s kitty of 2009 all over the state. Besides, a number of influential but disgruntled leaders from Congress and mostly from the NCP had joined the BJP on the eve of the elections and many of them were elected to the state assembly.
The geographical regions of the state viz. Konkan, Marathwada, Western Maharashtra, North Maharashtra and Vidarbha all voted for the BJP except Konkan where the Sena maintained its lead. Most of the voters in these regions were not the traditional BJP voters or supporters. In fact, they never were. They have been voting the Congress all along. But this time they changed their loyalty and supported the BJP. This is the most interesting aspect of the electoral politics of the state.
People were fed up with the negligent, shamelessly corrupt, arrogant and self-centred government of the Congress-NCP combine for the past 15 years in Maharashtra. The development has come to the virtual standstill with the state relegating to the sixth position. Unemployment, suicides by the farmers and exposures of unending corruption cases involving the top ministers were distinctive features of this model of governance. As a result, there was a discontent simmering in and during the elections this volcano of popular anger burst defeating the Congress-NCP rule.
The election in Maharashtra or Haryana or the Lok Sabha elections for that matter were different in many ways and aspects. Normally, voting in Indian elections is associated with a number of factors like castes, sub castes, languages, political affinity, commitments etc. This time the general and average voter crossed all these parameters and voted for one criterion that of development. This is a paradigm shift and indicates that the average Indian voter has graduated from his narrow, parochial limits to the higher and higher aspect of national development. This is a welcome sign. The political parties need to study this intelligent shift in the voting pattern and the changed psychology of the voters.
The first ever minority government of the BJP will face the immediate challenge of proving its majority on the floor of the House. And given the political situation this would not be very difficult for Devendra Fadanvis government. The NCP and its Supremo Sharad Pawar has already declared its ‘outside’ and ‘unconditional’ support to the BJP and even promised to remain absent from the House on the day to allow the BJP government withstand the test of majority on the floor. The Shiv Sena, tamed considerably due to tough postures adopted by the BJP leadership, is trying to look for some face saving to rectify its past mistakes. But its arrogance is still holding its leadership to accept their guilt and approach the BJP with an open heart. It is true that both the parties have the same ideological base, and remained together for the 25 years till they parted their ways in 2014, can be the natural allies. But the kind of language Sena leaders and its mouthpiece “Saamnaa” used against the Prime Minister has angered the BJP leaders and general public. The adamant and arrogant postures of the Sena leadership are further eating into their popular base and if they fail to rectify this the Sena will further be losing its popular base in the state. The sooner they realise this, the better for them.
As expected the BJP has adopted a strong and tough posture vis-a-vis Shiv Sena with a view to sending a clear message to the electorate and the allies, that the party would not accept unreasonable demands of the allies for the sake of power.
Though the BJP had given enough indication to accommodate Shiv Sena in the cabinet, the party wants Sena to play the second fiddle to its tune before it is being accommodated in the ministry. The Shiv Sena finds itself in a catch-22 position as it wants to be part of the BJP government yet it is adamant on being treated with ‘some due respect’.
Once firmly in saddle, the Fadnavis government would do well to concentrate on the growth and development, which it promised to the electorate. Reviving the Mihan project in Vidarbha, promising better future for the distressed farmers of the State and ushering in an era of prosperity and peace for all.
(The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst)