Fault lines surface in Maharashtra coalition government

Published : July 09, 2020 20:13 IST

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray (left) and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, in Mumbai on March 6. Photo: PTI

On July 3, five Shiv Sena corporators from the Parner Municipal Council in Ahmednagar district defected to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). This feat of one-upmanship was believed to have been engineered by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar of the NCP, who was present when the five Sena members joined his party formally.

Two days later, the Sena hit back by tying up with its old partner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the Kalyan Panchayat Samiti elections. Simultaneously, the Sena also demanded that the NCP ‘return’ its corporators. On July 8, the defectors returned to their mother ship, and this was seen as something of a triumph for the Sena over the NCP. They were summoned to Matoshree, Uddhav Thackeray’s home in Mumbai, in the middle of the pandemic, and photographed with their party boss.

However, there was no question of the Sena breaking its partnership in Kalyan with the BJP. The elections had already been held and the Sena nominees for the post of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson won with the BJP’s support. Interestingly the tie-up has been extended to the Ambernath and the Bhiwandi panchayats too.

Unable to undo the Kalyan election partnership, a hand of friendship was sought to be extended to the NCP with Sanjay Raut, a Sena MP, saying that Ajit Pawar was not to blame for the poaching. He said that just because Ajit Pawar was present when the corporators crossed over one should not l assume that Pawar was involved in the poaching. This almost sounded tongue-in-cheek, especially considering Ajit Pawar’s record of almost destabilising the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in its early days.

The shenanigans at the time of the pandemic show Maharashtra politics in a pathetic light. There has been a tug of war, primarily between the Sena and the NCP, over the transfers of 10 Mumbai-based Deputy Commissioners of Police and the Navi Mumbai Municipal Commissioner. The Congress has been sidelined in the partnership and complains that it is not being heard sufficiently.

The fault lines inherent in this very odd partnership of the Sena, NCP and Congress are gradually surfacing after the alliance being in power for eight months. And the BJP is waiting eagerly in the wings.

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