The decision of Shiv Sena to sit in opposition and of BJP to reject an alliance was the right choice made for wrong reasons. Throughout the ding-dong parleys held between both parties there was repeated reference to the number of ministerial posts to be distributed and whether a deputy chief minister’s post would be created. Not once was common policy discussed. Only insults were exchanged. Does either party have commitment to its declared fundamental policy? Or are policy declarations hollow assertions to befool the public? Consider the following policies respectively of both parties.
Decades ago the BJP solemnly resolved that the nation required smaller states and Vidharbha should be created as a new separate state. It is now for the first time after decades that the BJP heads the government in Maharashtra. That policy resolution gains immediacy. The BJP can now implement it. The Shiv Sena on the other hand is firmly committed to a united Maharashtra. During the election campaign when both parties were in contention Shiv Sena leaders urged people to oppose BJP because it wanted to divide Maharashtra state. To counter this Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi emphatically stated that no power on earth would be allowed to divide Maharashtra. The BJP was embarrassed. Through its general secretary it was compelled to reaffirm its policy to create smaller states and a separate Vidharbha.
The contradiction is yet to be sorted out between the BJP and Shiv Sena or between the BJP and the Prime Minister. It is a fundamental policy issue. Yet hectic parleys between BJP and Shiv Sena continued without one mention about this contradiction. Not once has the BJP clarified whether it will stand by the Prime Minister’s assurance or proceed with its declared resolve to create a separate Vidharbha state. Now that the party is in power it remains to be seen how it acquits itself regarding this policy. It remains to be seen whether the rupture in the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is permanent or will be reversed. What will not be seen most likely is reference to the prospect of a separate Vidharbha state.
This likelihood becomes stronger after the manner in which the new Maharashtra Chief Minister, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis, assumed office. He was imposed by the central leadership against protests by elected legislators who sought an election for the post. After the central leadership’s dictation no legislator dared to protest. That typified Indian political culture that mocks the spirit of democracy. Interestingly enough the new Maharashtra cabinet will include all those legislators who threw their hats in the ring to aspire for the Chief Minister’s post. These include Mr. Eknath Khadse who demanded an election, Mr. Vinod Tawde, Ms. Pankaja Munde and Mr. Sudhir Mungantiwar who according to observers would have been the likely winner in a poll. So all’s well that ends well. BJP aspirants are happy with the crumbs thrown by leaders. Shiv Sena after sulks is reconsidering participation in government. As for policy, who cares?