Shiv Sena acted wrongly, is Maha the loser?

Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP leaders during a joint meeting for a Common Minimum Programme, in Mumbai

Last month’s elections to the Maharashtra Assembly produced a hung House in the technical sense with none of the contending parties getting an absolute majority, but there was a clear and emphatic mandate in favour of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance. But after two weeks of haggling and posturing by the parties, mainly the Shiv Sena, the state has come under President’s rule instead of a representative government. The Shiv Sena’s demand for an equal share of power, with the chief minister’s post for half the term of the Assembly, spoiled the government formation efforts and led to a breakup of the alliance. Being the senior partner in the alliance, the BJP had the right to lead the government and the Sena’s attempt to dictate terms after the elections were politically and morally wrong. Whatever was the agreement between the two parties before the elections is not material because it was not made public, and so the Sena’s action is a rejection of the mandate the party and the BJP won from the people. 

The Shiv Sena is now trying to form the government in alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress or with their support. This is also wrong and unethical because there is no mandate from the people for the formation of a government by these parties aligning together. NCP leader Sharad Pawar had said after the elections that the NCP-Congress combine had the mandate to sit in the opposition. Even if their sole idea is to prevent the BJP from coming to power, an alliance with the Shiv Sena will be seen as opportunistic and could prove counterproductive. The Shiv Sena is a party based on rabid Hindutva and parochialism and there is no ideological and political agreement between it and the other two parties. A government formed by the three parties or by the Sena with the support of the others will be a negative arrangement and will be unstable, with or without a minimum programme or any other understanding. Such an alliance will also erode the credibility of the Congress and the NCP and help the BJP in the long run. 

However, the Governor acted in a hurry and did not exhaust all possibilities of government formation before recommending President’s rule in the state. He gave 48 hours to the BJP but only 24 hours to the Sena and 16 hours to the NCP to show the letters of support. After the BJP failed to form the government, he may have been only going through the motions for the sake of forming and had perhaps already made up his mind on President’s rule. This has raised legitimate questions about his conduct. 

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