NCP, Congress keep Shiv Sena on tenterhooks
New Delhi, Nov 19: It is almost 25 days since the result of the Maharashtra Assembly elections was announced and the uncertainty on the government formation still continues. In the last three weeks, most unexpected political events have unfolded.
Never could anyone have imagined that the Shiv Sena, a Hindutva right-wing party, and the Congress, which has always opposed the saffron parties, would even consider to be on the same side politically. Initially when speculations began doing rounds that the NCP may support Sena, many thought that even if the two-state parties join hands, Congress cannot be a part of it due to the ideological difference.
Ideologies of the Shiv Sena and the Congress are like two opposite ends of a spectrum. Veteran politician and NCP chief Sharad Pawar somehow managed to convince Sena of support and asked the Uddhav Thackeray-led party to sever ties with the NDA. Sena's lone minister in the Modi cabinet resigned and Shiv Sena officially pulled out of the NDA, ending close to three decades of alliance with the BJP.
The Maharashtra Governor first invited the BJP, single largest party, to form the government, and when Devendra Fadnavis refused, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari invited Shiv Sena, the second-largest party. Sena was initially confident of support from both parties and on November 11, it was decided that Sena would meet the Governor at 5.30 pm. It got postponed, as Sonia Gandhi was not able to decide whether the 'secular' party should be part of the government with a saffron party.
There is a massive amount of risk involved for the Congress which has been reduced to less than 50 seats in the Lok Sabha since 2014. Amid dwindling vote share and battling with an image crisis, Congress risks losing its loyal minority voters who may not like an alliance with Sena at all. And even in the past, Sena founder has vehemently criticized Sonia Gandhi.
What also came as a surprise was Shiv Sena agreeing to ally with the NCP as many opine that Thackeray does not trust Pawar. The way things panned out in the last three weeks is something that no one could ever have predicted. If this alliance was even suggested before polls, no one could have taken it seriously. But now, the most unexpected has happened. Parties have risked their ideology and joined hands, just to keep the BJP out of power.
The BJP's rise has been so phenomenal in the last 5-6 years that the smaller parties fearing about their existence. The partied probably feel that their survival is at stake if the BJP is allowed to rise further. Even in the BJP-Sena alliance, the Thackeray led party was made to accept the role of a junior partner.
the BJP performance in 2017 Mumbai civic elections was such that it was just two seats behind Sena, a regional party.
It has been over a week since the Sena pulled out of the NDA, but the Congress has still not assured its support. It is wary of losing minority votes. Pawar met Sonia Gandhi on Monday but yet, no assurance came even as the Shiv Sena waits anxiously about its future.