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Maharashtra: Shiv Sena played the game a bit too long, took the fight a bit too far


New Delhi, Nov 11: The impasse in Maharashtra continues and the ball today is in the court of the Shiv Sena. The party has been invited by the Governor, to form the government after the BJP said on Sunday that it did not have the required numbers.

If the Shiv Sena decides to form the government, then it basically means that there would be a three-party government which would include the NCP and the Congress. But has the Shiv Sena played its cards well? It now appears as though the strategy is more about keeping the BJP at bay. The negative glue brings you together, but can the positive glue hold you together.

Maharashtra: Shiv Sena played the game a bit too long, took the fight a bit too far

OneIndia caught up with India's leading political scientist, Dr Sandeep Shastri to understand the dynamic in Maharashtra.

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Dr Shastri says that the only agenda seems to keep the BJP out of power. If the Shiv Sena and the NCP come together, I am sure that it would be a short term alliance as they have no common ground to work. They have ideological differences and I don't think the cadre and the leaders, in the long run, would find it beneficial.

The Shiv Sena must also bear in mind that their main stay is the BMC. The last time the BJP did very well there. If the BJP alliance does not go through, the Shiv Sena would have challenges in retaining the BMC says, Dr Shastri.

He further points out that he is convinced that the Shiv Sena and NCP alliance may not come through. The Shiv Sena also realises the potential threat to its vote base in Mumbai, if the alliance breaks with the BJP.

For Congress, I would believe that it would be politically suicidal to enter into a Sena-NCP alliance. Sonia Gandhi, in fact, took the right stand. At best, if the push comes to shove, the Congress is likely to extend issue-based support.

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The NCP is okay with the Shiv Sena as it is desperate to come to power. Even though the Sena has been told to explore the possibilities, I am not too sure if this alliance would come through, Dr Shastri adds.

When asked about the possibility of the BJP and Shiv Sena coming together at this stage, Dr Shastri says that if that were to happen it would be on the BJP's terms. That is the BJP's strategy now. If the Sena is unable to form the government, then I think there would be a brief spell of President's Rule. I also do not rule out the possibility of a snap poll.

If there is a fresh election, then I have no doubt that the BJP would go it alone and cash in on a strong sympathy wave. Further, Devendra Fadnavis would be the face of the party.

Coming to the strategy of the Shiv Sena, Dr Sandeep Shastri says that they tried to up the ante and were being provocative. They played the game a bit too long and took the fight too far.

This, in my view, is a wake-up call for the BJP too on how to deal with alliance partners. When you the upper hand, the allies keep quiet, but then it is the other way around when the allies have the upper hand. The BJP would need to re-work this strategy.

Further in Maharashtra, there is also this strong feeling that the Marathi identity has not been exerted. There is a history of Marathi-Gujarati rivalry in local politics. The Marathi tatva in the BJP does not seem to be very strong.

Dr Shastri on being asked if the Shiv Sena and NCP combine would assert the Marathi tatva says that on the face of it, it would be a Marathi party. However, the NCP would want to assert its stand among the Marathas, while the Shiv Sena would assert its Marathi stance.

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He says that as of now the only agenda appears to be to keep the BJP out. The negative has brought them together, but then there needs to be a positive glue that holds you together.

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    For the Shiv Sena, it has become an ego battle. It has become about 50:50. I am not sure if they played their cards properly. In the long it may not be in the best interest of the Shiv Sena. Remember the Sena is the BJP's oldest ally. Further, he adds that if the Shiv Sena were to offer an alliance, it would be on the BJP's terms. The BJP will not concede to the rotational CM policy. Instead, the BJP would rather sit out of power and remain in opposition. However, I feel that as the political heat dies, a reconciliation may take place, Dr Shastri adds.

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