HomePoliticsBJP tweaks its Bihar formula to deflect, confuse Shiv Sainiks by pitching...

BJP tweaks its Bihar formula to deflect, confuse Shiv Sainiks by pitching support to one of their own, Eknath Shinde as CM

@PrashantHamine

Mumbai: Tweaking their Bihar power sharing formula a bit and delivering a stunning blow at the last moment to everyone, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has check-mated all its opponents both within and outside by propping up the name of Eknath Shinde for the post of chief minister. It has very shrewdly taken the winds out of the sails of not just the Shiv Sena faction led by former chief Uddhav Thackeray, it has left the other Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) constituents – Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, floored and clueless.

By pitching its support to the Shiv Sena faction led by Eknath Shinde, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has demolished the Thackeray camps bait to the rebels that had the BJP agreed for a two-and-half year power sharing formula, then Thackeray himself would have made Shinde the chief minister. He also tried to negate the casteist slander aimed at him as well as the anger aimed at the BJP arising out of the toppling of the MVA government.

In Bihar, the BJP has similarly propped up a minority Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) faction led government of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The BJP though having more numbers is playing the second fiddle, just to keep the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) at bay. A ploy that was replicated by NCP chief Sharad Pawar through his MVA experiment in Maharashtra, to a relatively modest success.

Party president J P Nadda however has made the stand of central leadership stand clear that Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis accept the role of Deputy Chief Minister just to ensure that the finger is on the remote control and can have a ringside view of the emerging political scenarios in the future.

In making the 59-year-old, former autorickshaw driver and close-confidant of late Anand Dighe, the BJP top brass has ensured that the resolve of late Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray of ‘making an ordinary Shiv Sainik the chief minister’ is ‘honoured’.

By doing so what the BJP has done is that it has cleverly stolen the late Sena chief’s legacy right from under the nose of the Thackeray’s and at the same time co-opted the legacy of late Anand Dighe in Thane and surrounding areas. In a way it is an attempt to regain its foothold in a region which it had ceded to the Sena of Thackeray’s.

Notwithstanding whatever the judgment is delivered by the Supreme Court of India on July 11 in the disqualification of 16 MLAs of the Shinde faction, the making of Shinde the chief minister will also act as a fulcrum to attract Sena leaders who are still on the other side of the fence, or sitting on the fence, waiting for the picture to become clearer.

The move not only ensures that the Thackeray-Dighe legacies are co-opted, but also deals a body-blow to the Thackeray’s wavering stand on ‘Hindutva’ ideology. It has also meant that BJP has pitched the two Sena factions against each other in their fight to claim not just the legacy but also being its rightful claimant.

It remains to be seen as to whether the die-hard Shiv Sainik, who is already confused about which party flag to pick-up and whom to really stand behind firmly – Eknath Shinde or Uddhav Thackeray.

Either way, the split in the Sena serves well for the BJP as it tries to regain its foothold, or expand it, in regions like Mumbai, Thane, rest of Konkan region, Marathwada and Western Maharashtra at the symbiotic expense of the Shinde faction.

All the rebel Sena MLAs who have jumped ship to the Shinde camp have relied on the BJP for their electoral success, their support and the support of the divided and confused Sena cadres is a perfect recipe for the BJP as it strategizes for the 2024 Lok Sabha and Assembly election that follow later.

In the interim, in the remaining two and half years remaining, the BJP would like to pull the strings of the Shinde government in settling ticklish issues like – Maratha agitation for reservation quota, the Aarey Metro car-shed issue, the Nanar oil refinery issue, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train issue.

Besides settling the infrastructure and development issues before the 2024 poll season, the BJP would definitely like to piggy-back ride on the Shinde faction as it eyes to wrest power or share it with the Shinde camp, in civic bodies in Mumbai, Thane, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and rest of Maharashtra.

It will also be a litmus test for the Shinde camp and a reality check for the BJP as to where it stands politically. The BJP will also use the opportunity to undermine the support base of the NCP and the Congress as it gears up for the 2024 electoral battle. The current tie-up with the Shinde camp will also help take the heat off itself for the BJP after having successfully plotted the downfall of the MVA government by remaining tight-lipped and by remaining behind the curtains.

Much of the survival of this new experiment of the BJP depends upon whether it is able to curb its instincts to pull the power-plug and make hay while the sun shines. It will also be a test of nerves for Eknath Shinde as he tries to absorb the pressure from the BJP.

Prashant Hamine
Prashant Hamine
News Editor - He has more than 25 years of experience in English journalism. He had worked with DNA, Free Press Journal and Afternoon Dispatch. He covers politics.

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