The weakness and agglomeration of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Dhananjay (Munna) Mahadik and the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance have been revealed in the recently concluded Rajya Sabha elections in Mumbai.
The failure of insiders to admit that the internal grouping, poor ground management and skills of the MVA leaders have exposed them, puts them on the weakest wicket before the state legislative council on June 20 and the presidential election on July 18. Collectively, these surveys will influence the morale of the local bodies in the elections to be held later this year, including the Shiv Sena’s high-risk Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Insiders say the Shiv Sena and the MVA have made tactical errors by extension. Unlike his predecessors who kept independent lawmakers in good humor for the value of their obvious nuisance, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has been accused of making it difficult for lawmakers and ministers to access them and is said to lack a strong hold on government equipment.
This has led some lawmakers, including independents, to gravitate towards Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is seen as a more hands-on and ruling alpha male. Congress leaders point out how some independents who have voted for the BJP are close to the NCP.
Mahadik is a former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate and was elected as the party’s nominee for the Lok Sabha in 2014. Mahadik’s victory puts two leaders – Home Minister Satej (Bunty) Patil (Congress) and Rural Development Minister Hassan Kolhapur – on the sticky wicket of Mushrif (NCP).
The Shiv Sena, once known for its monolithic structure and iron-clad commitment to the supreme command of the High Command, is gradually gaining control of the factional battle between its leaders and ministers. To add to this, there is a perception that the army is in power but not in power, as it controls the NCP government through powerful accounts such as finance, housing, water resources and rural development. Some Shiv Sena and Congress MLAs are said to be upset for the party’s treatment of Ajit Pawar, who has a financial account.
Sanjay Pawar’s selection from the Maratha community and a section of the NCP from the NCP stronghold (West Maharashtra) may have been upset by the rise of rival power. Center
“This victory is not from the order of the people, but it is the order of the horse business,” Rawat alleged, questioning whether the Election Commission of India (ECI) was operating under the direction of the central government. The ECI invalidated the vote of Army MLA Suhas Kande, but dismissed objections to the votes cast by BJP MLA Sudhir Mungantiwar and independent Ravi Rana.
Six MLAs, including Hitendra Thakur’s Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) and Sanjayamama Shinde (Independent-Karmala), Shyamasundar Shinde (Farmers and Workers’ Party-Loha) and Devendra Bhuyar (Independent-Morsi), are responsible for cross-voting. Bhuyar and Sanjay Shinde have dismissed the allegation. However, Routh denied any threat to the MVA government because it won 160 votes. Incidentally, these six legislators are said to be close to the NCP.
“It is no exaggeration to say that this may be a precursor to the weakening of the MVA,” said a senior Congress leader, adding that there is a section in the NCP that still retains a soft corner for the BJP. A Congress minister has hinted that some of the NCP may have played a role in the defeat of the Shiv Sena. “The setback in the council election could cause some instability,” he acknowledged.
“One of the weak points of the government is poor ground management,” an independent lawmaker said, adding that the Congress and the NCP had corrupted the Shiv Sena.
“There are many undercurrents in the MVA that we have exploited. This election is a huge dissatisfaction, ”said another independent MLA who is close to the BJP. After tasting blood in the Rajya Sabha polls, the BJP will contest and win six out of ten elections for the state assembly, he said.
The BJP has fielded six candidates for ten seats, two each from the Congress, Shiv Sena and three from the NCP. There are 12 candidates in the arena.
Incidentally, even in power, the Shiv Sena is facing constant deterioration and setbacks. Unlike the NCP, it was unable to launch its own social engineering exercise to expand its base. The Shiv Sena and the NCP’s electoral and social catchments overlap in some areas of Marathavada and western Maharashtra, which have shared power in the state, but have ensured that relations between the cadre continue to be hostile.
Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis blamed the MVA’s defeat on the ‘power bureaucracy’. Said to have voted conscientiously.
Hemant Desai, a senior journalist and analyst, said MVA had a lack of coherent strategy. “Their over-confidence worked against them. On the other hand, Fadnavis worked silently and under the radar, ”he noted. Desai said Thackeray’s administrative experience, accessibility, team spirit and lack of networking were weak factors.