Central Hall – Tinderbox Session!

Mumbai: A showdown between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led opposition and the Shiv Sena, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in the budget session of the Maharashtra state legislature looks inevitable. Be it the National Investigation Agency (NIA) taking over the Bhima-Koregaon case, government’s stand on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the ensuing biennial Rajya Sabha elections, any of these issues point towards a Tinderbox session.

There is palpable unease both in the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi and the BJP led opposition, and it has even ensnared the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Even, RSS joint secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi feels the MVA government days are numbered and its acolyte Devendra Fadnavis is not born to be on the opposition benches for too long. For an organization that has steadfastly refused to, or has deliberately chosen to stay away or has restrained itself from commenting on matters of politics, the bad bug of politics seems to have finally bitten it.

Or is it that the BJP and the RSS is weary of the possibility of the wholesale imported leaders could well begin deserting them and do a ‘Gharwapsi’ of sorts? The inflated numbers is partly because of turncoats getting elected on the BJP ticket, in the hope that Fadnavis will be re-elected for a second term.

Also Read: Central Hall – Change of Guard on Cards?

Already, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is under fire for his nod to handover the probe in the Bhima-Koregaon case to the NIA and his open support for the implementation of the CAA. The Congress wants Thackeray to read the fine print in CAA amendments. While, NCP president Sharad Pawar is miffed over Thackeray clearing the decks for the NIA probe in the Bhima-Koregaon case.

Fadnavis may be making it a bit awkward for Thackeray by supporting the NIA probe and the CAA issue, but till now he has found no chink in the armor of Thackeray. It still does appear that even after having been taken for a ride by the Sena president, the BJP is still hopeful that Thackeray might still walk-out of the MVA.

Thackeray is well aware of the limitations of power on both the issues, and appears to be caught in a bind. To make matters worse, he has also to deal with the biennial elections to seven Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra. Not to speak, but he himself has to get elected to either of the two houses within six months by May 28. And, the next biennial elections to Legislative Council in Maharashtra are due only in June-July.

There is considerable unease amongst the senior Sena leadership as its arch rival, the Raj Thackeray is slowly eroding its Hindutva base. The situation for the Sena is like caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Already with so many stop work notices issued on almost all the infrastructure projects, Thackeray can ill afford to go all out against the BJP led Central Government. After all, he and Maharashtra will need Central assistance in many other welfare schemes and policies.

If the ruling MVA alliance is grappling with its own issues, the situation in the BJP is no less different. A party, a parent organization (RSS) and a leader of opposition all feel that it is just a matter of few days, if not months, and that they are all destined to be back in power very soon. Maybe because of that, or plans to shifting base for Fadnavis to Delhi, has apparently once again sparked off an internal power struggle in the BJP.

Although Fadnavis has been vehemently denying that he has any plans to shift base to national politics, but if it is inevitable then, a suitable successor is need. It certainly cannot be Sudhir Mungantiwar against whom even when in power the mysterious death/missing of tigress T1 (Avni) had cropped up after people began taking note of his afforestation drive. That very same tree plantation drive has now spawned yet another controversy.

The elevation of Praveen Darekar as the leader of opposition in the Legislative Council has caused considerable heartburn within the party loyalists. Moreover, the ruling MVA is gearing up to target Fadnavis & Co on Jalyukta Shivar, Samruddhi Mahamarg, book of revelations by former police commissioner Rakesh Maria and internal dissentions within the BJP in respect to what loyalists call favoring of “outsiders”. The targeting of Mungantiwar, Eknath Khadse, Pankaja Munde, Chandrashekhar Bawankule had almost threatened to cause vertical split in the party.

The situation is such that a slight spark from either side, is just going to blow this Tinderbox. And, that spark could well come from the NIA probe into Bhima-Koregaon case or the implementation of the CAA, and it could cause collateral damage on both the sides.

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