Sections of commentators have been busy writing the political obituary of Maharashtra chief minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Undoubtedly, Thackeray is today facing a big political crisis. Forty two rebel MLAs including seven Independent legislators have been camping in Assam and have been going public on issues such as the “inaccessibility”of the chief minister.
Thackeray himself has been appealing to the rebel MLAs to return to Mumbai, offering to resign as Chief Minister if the party MLAs suggested so. The BJP has been weighing possibilities of either forming the government with the support of the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena, or to allow a spell of President’s Rule.
The Maharashtra developments bring cheer to the BJP camp for obvious reasons. The cash rich state – with the highest GDP among all states at 467 billion US dollars – will be taken off the control of the Opposition parties. Second, Brand Thackeray will get partially damaged; which would pave the way for a full fledged BJP government in the state in the future. The trouble is this: Shiv Sena politics has remained – and likely to remain – with the Thackeray family.
So far, Uddhav Thackeray has neither criticised either the Eknath Shinde group nor cast aspersions at the BJP. Although the Shinde group initially moved to BJP ruled Gujarat, the Shiv Sena chief has not raked up the traditional campaign on the Gujarat versus Maharashtra rivalry.
If and when he gives a call to the Shiv Sena cadres to take to the streets on such issues, the new Maharashtra government is likely to have a serious law and order problems to deal with. Although taken by surprise by the sudden exit of a large number of party MLAs, Thackeray has been cautiously playing his cards.
He moved out of his official bungalow and shifted to his traditional home Matoshree – a move that would help him generate support among party cadres. He has repeatedly been asking the rebel legislators to return; which they would eventually need to do. When the floor test happens in the Assembly, the actual strength of the Shinde camp would get determined.
As reported in the Marathi media, several MLAs supporting Shinde are doing so to escape cases lodged against them by the central investigating agencies including the ED and Income Tax. It is possible that chunks of the rebel MLAs could again pledge support to the Thackeray group, making it difficult for the Shinde group to have the numbers to defeat provisions of the anti-defection law. The point is this: The MVA government will fall, in all likelihood. But the last word remains to be spoken on Uddhav Thackeray, the politician.
Journalist by accident, rail, travel and political buff by choice - dissenter by compulsion. Interested in policy and governance.