25 Jun 2022  |   06:39am IST

Unnatural coalition nears natural end

Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde on Wednesday said the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in Maharashtra was an "unnatural alliance" and it was imperative for his party to walk out of the coalition with the NCP and the Congress for its own sake and that of party workers.

The Shiv Sena fell out with BJP after the 2019 Maharashtra polls and tied up with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the State.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray went on to say that his party “wasted” 25 years in alliance with BJP. He also claimed that while the Shiv Sena has now made the decision to abandon the BJP, it will never abandon Hindutva, for the “BJP is not synonymous with Hindutva”.

The rocky relationship between both the saffron parties saw several ups and downs in the past, but both somehow managed to stay together. The parties had first come together in 1984. However, this is not the first time that the two parties have parted ways. The rocky relationship between both the saffron parties saw several ups and downs in the past, but both somehow managed to stay together so far. It was the Hindutva ideology they shared which apparently kept them together.

Shiv Sena’s decision to break up with the BJP was largely aimed at denying the Amit Shah-led party a dominant role in Maharashtra by portraying Aaditya Thackeray as the leader who would go on to rule the region for years to come. But BJP was not ready to take this snub lying down. Devendra Fadnavis engineered a coup in newly formed MVA government in 2019 by poaching Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar to form a government at dawn,

The BJP has been waiting for its opportunity to break this coalition. This time it seems to have got another big fish in Eknath Shinde. The Eknath Shinde-led camp now has 38 rebel MLAs. There are also eight independent MLAs in Guwahati, who have extended support to Shinde.

More than two-thirds of the Shiv Sena MLAs have now become rebels, and if a vertical split takes place, they will be saved from disqualification under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution (anti-defection law).

The Uddhav Thackeray camp is now left with only 12 Shiv Sena MLAs, and Eknath Shinde has the numbers to topple the MVA government, with BJP’s help. BJP has 106 MLAs and there are seven independents who are ready to support BJP.

The morale in Eknath Shinde’s camp now is very high, and it is just a matter of time before the rebels will return to Mumbai and meet the Governor. The Thackeray family is now worried that Eknath Shinde and his supporters may also take control of the 56-year-old party, founded by Balasaheb Thackeray on June 19, 1966. Shinde has also claimed that at least 14 out of 18 Shiv Sena MPs in Lok Sabha are in his camp. Shinde is going to declare his group as the real Shiv Sena.

Uddhav Thackeray’s allies, Sharad Pawar and Congress, are now in a fix. On Thursday, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar said that the majority will be decided on the floor of the House. Both Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar know that they have lost the game, because 38 Shiv Sena MLAs are now with rebel leader Eknath Shinde.

It was a foregone conclusion from the beginning that this “unnatural alliance” of parties with diametrically opposite ideologies won’t last its full term. The two years of COVID-19 delayed the inevitable. But now it is on the verge of happening.

On an earlier occasion, the MVA government in Maharashtra managed to survive a split. But this time it is very unlikely that it will survive.