Maharashtra hangs in the balance

The BJP and Shiv-Sena have parted ways. The lone Sena minister in the NDA, Arvind Sawant has resigned to meet the demand by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar who says that a Congress-NCP- Shiv Sena government would only be formed if the Sena walked out of the NDA. Governor BS Koshyari had given until 7.30 PM Monday for government formation but that has not happened since the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has not okayed the deal. The NCP met the Governor on Monday and was told to finalise government formation by Tuesday 8.30 pm. The Congress leadership is still not keen to support the Shiv Sena. It’s MLAs are in a huddle in Jaipur. The BJP is observing things from the sidelines.

Shiv Sena has had a long history of bitter antagonism against the Congress. It espouses a radical right ideology and its leader Bal Thackeray is known to have been bitterly critical of the Nehru-Gandhi especially of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. The Shiv Sena believes that Maharashtra belong to the Marathi manoos and they have the first right to jobs and other livelihood opportunities.

The BJP was given the first opportunity to form the government by virtue of having the largest number of MLAs. Besides, the BJP and Shiv Sena had pre-poll alliances and that should have settled matters. But the Shiv Sena’s ambition to see the young Aditya Thackeray as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the BJP’s stiff stance that Devendra Fadnavis is the natural choice has thrown a spanner in the works. If things don’t work out by Tuesday the Governor might impose President’s Rule as a last resort and dissolve the assembly. But going for fresh polls at this juncture might not be to anyone’s liking. Never before has government formation taken such twists and turns.

Meanwhile with no government to take important policy decisions for over a fortnight, the only sufferers are the public. Clearly this model of democracy which lends itself to horse trading and is held ransom by political egos is not serving the people of India. Apart from the fact that farmers in Maharashtra are facing severe agricultural crisis particularly in the Marathwada region, even the capital city of Mumbai is not free from the predicaments that afflict an urban metro with flooding and water-logging becoming frequent occurrences. Moreover, parties with sharp ideological differences coming together to form a government only for the sake of the numbers game is fraught with uncertainties. Knowing the Shiv Sena, acrimonious exchanges are not uncommon. The government therefore would be treading on thin ice.