Shiv Sena has been an old but a grumpy ally of the BJP. Uddhav Thackeray had once mentioned that the Shiv Sena ministers in the state government carry resignation letters in their pockets. It was yet another empty threat by the Shiv Sena which started in the run up to the Maharashra Assembly Elections where the BJP denied giving Shiv Sena more seats to contest on. Since then the constant bickering of the Sena marks the lowest ebb in BJP- Shiv Sena relations. It was a miracle that the alliance managed to survive. But the new age BJP doesn’t take empty rants kindly, and backbiting is an absolute no.
There is one development in Maharashtra Politics that has the potential to discipline Sena and make them act like an ally.
Following the footsteps of fellow politicians in Maharashtra, Raj Thackrey and Sharad Pawar, Narayan Rane in a bid to revive his dying political career, floated his political party “Swabhiman Paksha” on the 1st of October, 2017. From being a Shakha Pramukh to the Chief Minister of the richest state in India, Maharashtra and finally to float his own political party, Narayan Rane has done it all.
After quitting congress a fortnight ago, Narayan Rane who was hobnobbing with BJP bigwigs like BJP President, Amit Shah and Maharashtra CM, Devendra Fadnavis was rumoured to join the BJP and to hold the torch on behalf of the BJP in the Konkan region.
Considering that the BJP has absolutely no foothold in the Konkan region, it made complete sense to induct a politician who has a mass following of the people by the coast. But with that politician turning out to be Narayan Rane, the circumstances turned it into a catch 22 like situation for the BJP leadership. The local administration of the BJP threatened the BJP leadership of massive revolt if Rane was inducted into the party. BJP’s supporters throughout the country also emanated the same feeling of displeasure and disappointment on the plausible induction of Rane into the party, with all his previous rants against the BJP during his tenure as the revenue minister in the erstwhile UPA government.
It was not only a question of a difference in ideology between Narayan Rane and BJP, but also his tainted past which posed as a roadblock. Rane during his term as the revenue minister was named in a host of scams that plagued the nation during the UPA regime, starting from the Adarsh society scam to alleged land grabbing scams in the name of his wife and children to opening of shelf companies to allegedly convert black money into white, the list involving Rane is one which is rather too long, long enough for the BJP to clearly tell him that while he was free to support the BJP, there was absolutely no chance of him being inducted into the BJP.
We had in our article dated 29th September, 2017 clearly predicted this and come 1st October, that is what Mr. Rane did. While Narayan Rane might want to state that him quitting the congress were merely because they did not make him the Chief Minister of Maharashtra in spite of being promised, it is pretty obvious that no one, and especially opportunistic politicians like him would want to stick around to drown in a sinking ship like the INC.
Setting up his own shop was the best way out for Narayan Rane and the BJP since it was a win win situation for both.
For Narayan Rane, he had the opportunity to possibly save face and avoid embarrassment by losing elections on a congress ticket and also create some sort of a legacy for his children Nilesh and Nitesh, just like Balasaheb Thackrey did for Uddhav and for the BJP they managed to get an ally in the coastal region without having to rely on the might of the Sena.
This political arrangement is best from the perspective of the BJP, but is a big blow to the Shiv Sena which has been in alliance with the BJP since a long time. Amit Shah, through his immaculate decision making, has once again shown all his political compatriots that Indian politics is no more controlled and governed from 10 Janpath. Meanwhile, it can only be hoped the Sena starts acting more like an ally and less like an opposition party to ensure that the saffron parties go to elections together in the 2019 elections.
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