Maharashtra govt formation: Uddhav Thackeray cautions MLAs against jumping ship
Shiv Sena's new found aggression is because it feels BJP is trying to make it irrelevant. He reminded 56 newly elected MLAs of the fate of former NCP leader Udayan Raje, who lost in Satara after joining BJP.
The Sena president reminded the MLAs of Udayan Raje, who was elected as an NCP MP in 2019 but resigned to contest as a BJP candidate, only to lose in the Satara Lok Sabha by-polls. “If Maharaj (Udayan is the descendant of legendary Maratha warrior King Shivaji) can lose within four months, then anyone else can.”
Hidden in this was an explicit message to his party’s MLAs — that they could jump ship to support BJP, but risk their political future.
Uddhav’s remark about Udayan was not just a message for the Sena cadres but also an admission of the party’s fear and distrust towards its ally BJP. To illustrate further, a senior Sena leader claimed that one of the points of the discussion during Saturday’s meeting was also how at least 15 Sena MLAs fell as the BJP cadres did not work for them.
Since the 2014 assembly polls, when the alliance between Shiv Sena and BJP broke and both contested separately, Uddhav Thackeray has publicly complained of how the BJP, which emerged as the single largest party, had stabbed it in the back. For Sena, its ally BJP was always supposed to be the big brother at the Centre, while the Sena was supposed to be the big brother in the state.
Shiv Sena got another rude jolt when the BJP fell behind in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections by a margin of just two seats.
While Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis let Shiv Sena continue to be at the helm of BMC as he did not want an antagonistic Sena to disturb the state government, for the Sena the message was very clear. The magnanimous gesture was, however, lost on the Sena, as it felt that BJP, whom it had supported for so long, had grown at its expense, and unless they hit back, Sena would be further relegated to the background.
The BMC is one of the richest civic bodies in Asia and has sustained the Sena over the years when it hasn’t been in power in the state. It has a budget that’s bigger than that of states like Kerala, and every year it is involved in road projects and other developmental works worth hundreds of crores.
Incidentally, the next civic polls are in early 2022 and behind the Sena’s aggressive posturing and demand for the CM’s post is the urgency to ensure that the party continues to keep its hold on the civic body.
Shiv Sena also wants to keep the BJP at bay and ensure that it is not relegated to the sidelines.