Watchful opposition grows against confident BJP-Shiv Sena

Now that the voting for the Maharashtra State Assembly elections is just a week away, the outcome seems to be clear and vivid. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance is all set to come out with flying colours. The sitting Chief Minister is sure to continue for the next term.

Leaders of both the parties in the alliance are aware of this eventuality, and thus confident. Not that they or their respective parties have fared extremely well during the last five years or that they have come out with any earth-shattering plans for the electorate.

This is simply because the challengers-the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are too weak and lack in any election strategy, making it easy for the ruling side to take on them.

That sheer confidence is showing in the behaviour and utterances of most of their leaders; rank and file. It now smacks of overconfidence or arrogance; not acceptable in the grammar of warfare.

'Everything is fair in love and war', it is said. One can include 'elections' in the list which would make the speeches of Shiv Sena Party Chief Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis pardonable, as they boast that there is no opposition in sight for them.

In the theory of warfare one needs to lower the morale of the opposite side. Going by that logic if the Chief Minister on his home pitch, Nagpur, boasts that there was no opposition to fight, it can be seen in that light. But when the same line is towed by all other leaders including state party chief Chandrakant Patil and many others, it starts looking like either they are myopic or they have miscalculated their own strength and that of the opponents.

Rats jumping out

The BJP-Sena came out with flying colours in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections just six months ago. Since then, there has been an unabated stream of Congress and NCP party leaders of second and third rank entering the ruling BJP or the Shiv Sena.

Most of the NCP leaders who held important positions in the party and the Government when they were on ruling benches deserted the party. Of course they would jump out of the ship as they realised that the vessel in which they had sailed the last two decades, has lost its sail and started sinking in the deep sea.

Just as rats jump out of a sinking ship, many local leaders like Sachin Ahir in Mumbai and Vijay Singh Mohite-Patil from Akluj, Udaysinha Raje Bhosale from Satara, Madhukar Pichad from Ahmednagar and Jagjit Rana Patil from Osmanabad jumped out to join the BJP. The supremo of the NCP Sharad Pawar made every attempt to prevent the exodus. However, when he realised that the situation was going out of control, he decided to take the baton himself.

At the age of 79, the grand old warrior jumped into the battle-field and started a state-wide election campaign. Pawar, being a politician par excellence and having detailed and up-to-date knowledge of the interiors of the state, has started speaking on minute issues and problems at the Taluka level.

He has been able to touch a chord with the last man in the crowd. In short, Pawar has posed a serious threat, though invisible at this juncture. Perhaps sensing it, Fadnavis and Uddhav have launched a counter attack.

While Pawar is consolidating his position, Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi has made a strategic and invisible alliance with the Congress-NCP, posing a challenge to BJP-Sena. Those against the Congress-NCP had so far no other choice than voting for the Alliance. Vanchit has now given them a formidable option.

Call for formidable opposition

The decision of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray to contest is also hazardous to the Alliance. Raj's new call to vote for the MNS not to rule but take the role of the Opposition has intrigued all players in the arena.

Generally, even the weakest of the force grapple for power. Raj is not wishing for it but appealing to people to help them form a formidable opposition. This novel stance is being welcomed by the masses.

Despite these odds, I have no doubt about the victory of the Sena-BJP alliance. However, if their leaders keeping dreaming of power without waging a fight, their overconfidence would prove like the story of hare and tortoise. The overconfident hare is caught napping as the slow tortoise wins the race.

The writer is a political analyst and former Member of Parliament (RS). Political cartoon courtesy: Mika Azizi