(Dr Pentapati Pullarao)
Two rules apply to politics and life. 150 years ago, famous French economist Proudhon said that “the future is totally unpredictable and only the unexpected happens “. More recently, about 50 years ago, famous British prime minister Harold Wilson said:” A week is a long time in politics “. Both these rules apply fully to the Maharashtra crisis which started on March 15, 2021.
BJP suffered a big political setback in November 2019, when it failed to form a government with its ally Shiv Sena. Instead, Shiv Sena ditched BJP and formed a government with Congress and Sharad Pawar. Worse, BJP’s biggest rivals Sharad Pawar and Congress captured the richest and the second biggest a very big State. With Maharashtra in Sharad Pawar’s hands, it is very difficult for BJP to face the 2024 parliament elections.
The BJP has tried every trick in the book to form a government and in fact, it formed a short-lived government, with Ajit Pawar on November 23, 2019, the nephew of Sharad Pawar. After Shiv Sena, Sharad Pawar, and Congress formed the government, the BJP started losing political ground and elections.
The BJP also did not have great State leadership. Though Devendra Fadnavis was Chief Minister for 5 years, he never grew and created enemies within his own party and many blame him for the loss of Maharashtra. Then suddenly, through its own mistakes, the ShivSena government is in grave danger. A major scandal has erupted, involving a very low-level police officer, Assistant Sub-Inspector Sachin Vaze. Like a Bombay film, there is politics, encounter-specialists, officials, corruption, blackmail & murder.
Sachin Vaze is now in custody for murder and putting 1 ton of explosives outside the richest Indian Mukesh Ambani’s house. Due to this scandal, Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh was transferred and he alleged that the Home Minister Anil Deshmukh demanded Rs.100 crores a month as bribes. Now, there is a political storm in Maharashtra.
The BJP did nothing to bring about this crisis. It is a crisis that happened due to its rival’s errors and arrogance. But this crisis is going to help the BJP enormously.
- The scandal has tarnished the image of the Maharashtra government. It confirmed corruption and shows Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is a failure. The scandal will also bring divisions in the Shiv Sena. There are many Shiv Sena MLAs who are unhappy that the Shiv Sena has ditched the BJP and joined with Congress and Sharad Pawar.
2.The scandal involving Home Minister Anil Deshmukh will not go away, whether he resigns or not. This scandal will stick with the Uddhav Thackeray government and bring it a bad name.
- There will be more criticism of the Shiv Sena government in the future. Till now, there was fear that the Shiv Sena will react violently to criticism and they did. The Maharashtra government fought with famous actresses like Kangana Ranaut and Republic TV Arnab Goswami openly.
- Asst. Police Inspector Sachin Vaze and Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh know many secrets and were close to the Chief Minister and other politicians. If these two make allegations against the Chief ministers and others, then the government itself will be in danger.
- Thackeray and Sharad Pawar know that if the Central government enters into the scandal, as there is a demand for Rs. 100 crores as bribes, then it will be difficult to contain the crisis.
Bal Thackeray prohibited family members from entering electoral politics.
Many years ago, Smita Thackeray, daughter-in-law of Bal Thackeray, founder of Shiv Sena, wanted to become Mayor of Bombay. But Bal Thackeray forbade it and said that no family member should ever stand for election. Thackeray said that the family should control the government by “ remote control “. Bal Thackeray said that holding office would reduce the prestige of the Thackerays. During his lifetime, no family member stood for election.
By disregarding the advice of Bal Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray has committed a big mistake. The present crisis is a free gift to the BJP and it will be the biggest beneficiary.
The Maharashtra crisis will not go away. The courts and Central government may enter into this crisis as various laws have been violated. Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh and Assistant Sub Inspector Sachin Vaze may start making other allegations. That is when the danger starts for Uddhav Thackeray. Even a wild allegation will be swallowed by the public
Sometimes, if you just keep quiet, your enemy will make mistakes. The BJP was doing nothing in Maharashtra. Its enemy started destroying itself. Now Shiv Sena is at the mercy of 2 disgraced police officials.
(Pentapati Pullarao is a New Delhi based noted economist and political commentator)