Tough road ahead for Shiv Sena-NCP-Cong in Maharashtra

Tough road ahead for Shiv Sena-NCP-Cong in Maharashtra

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray along with NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena MLAs during a gathering to display their strength of 162, at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Mumbai, Monday, Nov. 25, 2019. Photo/PTI

Shiv Sena's alliance with Congress to form a government in Maharashtra marks coming together of ideological opposites, but the journey ahead is fraught with risks, particularly with a bruised BJP seeking to draw a wedge between the new allies.

Monday evening marked a first of sorts in the political circles in the national capital. A delegation of Shiv Sena leaders drove to 10, Janpath, the official residence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi to convey their support for the boycott of Constitution Day celebrations planned by the Modi government the next day.

The visit was unusual because Sena founder Bal Thackeray, who took pride in calling himself as Hindu Hriday Samrat (the emperor of Hindu hearts), had often targeted Gandhi for her foreign origins and her son Rahul for being an entitled dynast.

Gandhi had even expressed her strong displeasure at Pranab Mukherjee calling on the senior Thackeray at his Matoshree residence in suburban Bandra, seeking support for his candidature in the Presidential elections in 2012.

Egged by the Maharashtra unit of the Congress and advised by NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Gandhi agreed to keep her misgivings about Sena aside and support Uddhav Thackeray for the chief minister to prevent a “greater evil” BJP assume centre-stage in the state that is the economic powerhouse of the country.

The coming together of ideological opposites – Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP – has reined in the ambitions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah of planting the party flag despite falling short of the numbers.

“In Karnataka, Goa, Manipur, BJP has shown the world how to form governments by misuse of power and smearing the face of democracy. This is not Goa, this is Maharashtra. If something wrong is done here.... we will remove those who have come to power through illegal means,” NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

Political analysts believe that the initial taste of success in halting the BJP juggernaut could lead to some populist decisions that would provide solace to the common man, particularly farmers who faced the wrath of the weather gods.

However, the new alliance partners will have to keep a constant watch on the BJP that could lose no opportunity to create divisions by tapping disgruntled elements in the three parties.

Shiv Sena, particularly, will have to be cautious to BJP's attempts to fan the aggressive nationalist agenda as it makes efforts to build a Ram Temple in Ayodhya and move on to the next agenda of Uniform Civil Code.

Recently, the BJP engineered defections in both JD(S) and Congress in Karnataka to topple Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy government in July and facilitated the return of B S Yediyurappa at the helm of the state affairs.

The BJP is also planning an 'Operation Lotus' in Madhya Pradesh, where the Congress government has a thin majority.

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