Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gamble has finally paid off handsomely in Maharashtra after sweeping 122 seats out of 288 in the Marathi strong belt state. The BJP took a big risk by breaking its 25-year-old alliance with the Shiv Sena led by Udhav Thackeray. Still, it fell short of the majority needed to rule Maharashtra on its own. The biggest loser is Congress Party who was not only decimated after its rout in the Lok Sabha but lost Maharashtra, in particular Mumbai, which is considered to be India’s financial capital.
What does this win represent for the state? First and foremost, BJP has emerged as the strongest party on its own in Maharashtra and perhaps, the win should be credited to the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo. In all likelihood, BJP will rule the state with the help of an ally. The spoiler is the National Congress Party who made overture to BJP. It spoils the chance of Shiv Sena to re-work a political arrangement with the BJP to run the state. In short, BJP’s victory spoils the chance of Udhav Thackeray’s aspiration to become Maharashtra’s Chief Minister. In the event, BJP choose to negotiate with SS in the coming days, it will be hard nut to crack for the Sainiks. The biggest loser is the Udhav Thackeray’s party who fought the alliance on its own without the support of their patriarch and the party’s charismatic figure, Bala Saheb Thackeray. Certainly, the late senior’s Thackeray’s shoes is too big to fill for Udhav Thackeray.
However, the positive for the Shiv Sena is that they slightly improved their 2009 tally from 44 to 63. It’s not a bad score for the party who can now claim to be the rightful political inheritor of Bala Saheb but it also means a good start for Udhav Thackeray as the political heir and legitimate leader of the party. Considering that Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader, Raj Thackeray failed to make an impact in the state. However, if the Shiv Sena wants aspire to become the single largest party in the long run, there is a need to re-invent and favor an all-inclusive politics, not necessarily pro-Maratha. It’s no secret that Shiv Sena’s traditional voters are Marathi strong belt in areas like Dadar and Mahim.
Today, politics and balance of power in the state is fast changing and the average Marathi-born Maharashtrians are an educated lot who aspires for better education, jobs and is a secular lot. Shiv Sena brand of jingoistic politics will not work since there is an attitudinal shift in the way its traditional base is thinking. They must go towards the youth, not just Maratha but its cosmopolitan crowd. They have a trump card in the form of Aditya Thackeray and only time will tell whether the young leader can give a new thinking to the party and revolutionize its structure.
Everything is possible in politics. Can Shiv Sena seek support of the Congress and NCP to turn the table? Highly improbable scenario! Or, will BJP rope in NCP to form the Government or go back to SS since they traveled a long way together? The chances are there since the 63 seats of the Shiv Sena makes them a force to reckon in Maharashtra. I feel BJP and SS may find a truce.
At the end of the day, what matters is the largest interest of the state where BJP who has emerged at the single biggest party in this five-cornered fight has now a free hand to build infrastructure, provide jobs for the youth and ensure that commoners do not suffer whether it”s the monsoon season or terror attacks in the city. Maharashtra should win and not petty politics. Congress learned it the hard way with nepotism, corruption and a lackadaisical attitude where the woes of the people were blatantly ignored. Crumbling of infrastructure, pot holes during rains, Adarsh Scam you name it, you get it! Maharashtra is one state that has potential to steer high growth and is already a leader on the developmental front. The people must win.