Right from its inception, Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has had a troubled time. The alliance formed by three parties – Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, abounding with contradictions was bound to collapse.
When assumed the post of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra in 2019 Uddhav Thackeray was a member of either of the House; he had no experience of being an MLA or an MLC. Uddhav agreed to the terms set by NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar and Congress’ Sonia Gandhi.
Uddhav was always seen as a reluctant politician and his cousin Raj Thackeray as the heir apparent, but when Balasaheb Thackeray appointed Uddhav as the Shiv Sena’s executive President and Raj left the party, no one had expected Uddhav to do well. However, he went against the expectations of the public and instead did well for the Shiv Sena. Even when the BJP and Shiv Sena broke alliance in 2014, Shiv Sena stood at the second position and later became part of the NDA.
However, relations turned sour between the Saffron parties and in 2019, Uddhav Thackeray decided to ally with NCP and the Congress, mind it Congress is the same party whom Balasaheb Thackeray had criticised heavily. But then, in 2019 Uddhav decided to go with these two parties and friction emerged at that very moment.
One of the prominent Shiv Sena leaders Ramesh Solanki resigned too, claiming that Uddhav by aligning with the NCP and Congress had betrayed Hindutva and ideologies of Balasaheb Thackeray. Two-and-a-half years later 40 MLAs of Shiv Sena took the same line to rebel against Uddhav
One of the prominent Shiv Sena leaders Ramesh Solanki resigned too, claiming that Uddhav by aligning with the NCP and Congress had betrayed Hindutva and ideologies of Balasaheb Thackeray. Two-and-a-half years later 40 MLAs of Shiv Sena took the same line to rebel against Uddhav.
We will come to the rebellion later, but let’s discuss MVA first. MVA ran into trouble, and especially Shiv Sena, when its members within a few days of the Government formation were seen tonsuring the head of a Mumbai resident for allegedly posting a picture which the Shiv Sainiks found objectionable. Then came the mob lynching of two Sadhus in Palghar, the Sushant Singh Rajput’s death controversy consumed a major part of the MVA’s functional years. Then there was yet another incident of a former defence personnel being attacked and many such incidents.
The biggest jolt came, when the Vazegate took place, for the first time in the history of Mumbai police services, that an incumbent police officer was arrested for planting a bomb outside the house of India’s biggest industrialist. Not only did this, the officer and his aides were even accused of killing of Mansukh Hiren on whose car Vaze had allegedly planted the bombs.
The most shocking aspect was that a sitting police commissioner appointed by the MVA revolted and wrote a letter that the sitting Home Minister was allegedly involved in extortion and not only this, the commissioner even went missing, the minister had to resign and is behind the bars, of late. The bigger shock came, when another sitting minister was arrested for his alleged links with the kin of Dawood, the underworld don who had planted bombs in Mumbai and had also wanted to attack Shiv Sena Bhawan. Although both the ministers belonged to NCP, Shiv Sena lost the face, as the second minister was not sacked from the Cabinet and this was causing serious turmoil in the Shiv Sena camp.
The Shiv Sena and Congress MLAs seemed unhappy with the Government within a few days of the formation, noises of no proper access to Chief Minister, bureaucrats not listening to MLAs, and no adequate funds being released for development work became audible. These unhappy MLAs would instead claim NCP was enjoying the fruits of the Government, in spite of Shiv Sena holding on to the CM seat.
All this was brewing, and then came the biggest jolt to Shiv Sena in the form of Hindutva. The Shiv Sena and the Chief Minister were accused of side-lining Hindutva. With the Hanuman Chalisa row erupted, the Shiv Sena the champion of Hindutva, whose founder Balasaheb is referred as the Hinduhriday Samrat was seen as not siding with Hindutva this time.
Even though the chief minister and his minister son Aaditya Thackeray held various meetings and rallies to claim that the party was still with Hindutva and their Hindutva needs no certificate, the damage has already been done. MLAs had started abandoning the party and the Rajya Sabha polls along with MLC results was the last nail in the coffin, where the MLAs saw that Shiv Sena with these two parties won’t help them win future elections. The inability of Uddhav Thackeray to read the minds of Shiv Sena MLAs caused this turmoil.
Could Uddhav have avoided this?
There’s another aspect to the story. On June 20, before the MLAs left for Guwahati, they had been sending out warnings, but their warnings were missed by Uddhav. However, even when the MLAs left, they never spoke about leaving ShivSena and nor that of abandoning Uddhav Thackeray and they kept on repeating this.
However, Uddhav Thackeray’s close aide Sanjay Raut had already started speaking against the rebels, which the rebels pointed out not once but on several occasions to the party chief, that Raut’s language was causing more. Uddhav instead of reconciliation chose the path to fight, on day 1 of the rebellion Uddhav sacked Eknath Shinde, sending out signals that he is in no mood to compromise.
However, soon on June 22, it became clear that Uddhav didn’t have majority and close sources had hinted that Uddhav has realised it and will leave, he even held a Facebook live and in this it was expected he will resign, but again Raut and Sharad Pawar according to close sources convinced Uddhav to not resign.
Sanjay Raut and his statements were forcing many other leaders within the party to take a stand and most of the MLAs left, even those who were attending meetings of Uddhav camp left almost a week later to join Shinde. What was the demand of the rebel camp that Uddhav leaves MVA and they will come back, but Uddhav though left the CM bungalow Varsha but stuck to power. His minister son Aaditya Thackeray also started speaking against the rebel MLAs. This was damaging the relations and it became evident when Uddhav made an emotional appeal to the rebel camp but they cited Aaditya and Raut’s statement to say no, we aren’t coming back to you.
Uddhav normally is considered as a sensible politician and has taken many wise decisions too, but he failed to gauge the rebellion in his own party and especially when he is the CM. The role of NCP in the entire rebellion is also seen as a bit problematic, bit the ministers who are in jail today belonged to the NCP, not only this, the home ministry which handles the police department also belongs to the NCP and it was this ministry which failed in alerting Uddhav that the MLAs were leaving the state, especially when these MLAs have a police officer always with them.
The NCP has gained the most from the MVA, whereas they got the majority of funds, even in the MLC elections they got more votes than their existing MLA strength. This also is being attributed as one of the reasons why NCP desperately wanted the MVA to continue.
Devendra Fadnavis : Power behind thrown
Devendra Fadnavis has emerged as the indisputable leader of Maharashtra, snatching power from Sharad Pawar is no mean feat. Devendra not only once but twice check mated Pawar, Thackeray and the Congress, first with the Rajyasabha and MLC polls and secondly when the entire MLAs managed to move out without the ruling alliance even getting a whiff of it.
Devendra Fadnavis has proven that he in spite of not being in power holds a lot of clout in the bureaucracy and the police department. While one can see other parties losing MLAs, Devendra could hold the BJP together and even got more MLAs from the smaller and independents. Devendra lied low but rose to the occasion when needed. He exposed the MVA in the Assembly and via poll-khol rallies. Devendra Fadnavis has evolved not just as a leader but also as a human being who could keep relations together. He silenced all his critics and managed to acquire what he knew is legitimately his and that of the BJP. Expectations are high on Devendra Fadnavis.