Implications of Maharashtra results

Arun Srivastava

Mumbaikars did not settle the contentious issue of who would rule them. It was the issue of lording over the Mumbaikars that had forced the divorce and separated the couple. No doubt the BJP and its supporters are quite elated at the significant gain of the party, the fact must not be denied that this cannot be attributed to ideological victory. The saffron party preferred to follow in the footsteps of the Congress and rely on its recipe.
The media and BJP leaders are not tired of furnishing statistics to claim that the party has made a vertical gain. None will deny. But ought to not to forget that statistics never reflect the politically correct ground realities. Often the latest figures are compared with the previous figures to derive conclusions and emphasise ones personal claims and views. But we often forget that during the intermittent period substantial changes have taken place in the politics and economics of the state as well as the country. These changes have the lives of the people and also impacted the political economy of the state.
While playing with the statistics we ought to remember that a country or for that matter the state is not a static object. These are most vibrant. Even a period of one year is quite big time for reorienting and reshaping the political economy. Only a year back Akhilesh Yadav was standing on the podium of loser, but suddenly we find Narendra Modi walking towards that podium. Who could have imagined that the BJP under Modi would have wiped out the Congress in 2014. But it happened. Certain gimmicks and overacting of the Congress leadership changed the situation. Modi gained.                          
In elections to Zilla Parishads too, the BJP tally suggested a threefold increase. Of the 1509 seats, the scorecard od the results declared read: BJP 410 (up from 165); Shiv Sena 264 (233); Congress 293 (419); NCP 346 (511); MNS 1 (17); and, Others 152 (170).
The biggest contribution to the BJP victory was from the MNS of Raj Thackeray. His targeting the non-Marathis and brutally thrashing them made these migrants flock to the BJP for protection. The meek surrender of the Congress to the Raj’s dictates make them sure of the fact that the Congress leadership was a bunch of guinea pigs who lacked courage to stand to the atrocities perpetrated by Raj’s goons and musclemen. The election results manifest that while Sena victory represented the aspirations of the Marathi manus, the BJP imbibes the faith of the non-Marathis, especially the migrants from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other northern states. True enough this is the continuation of 2014 election trend. Traditionally the north Indian people in Mumbai were the supporters of the Congress.
The election eve fight between the Sena and BJP has polarized the Mumbaikar. The Marathi manus who had extended support to the MNS switched to the Sena in protest against the machinations of the BJP. Nasik has in recent years emerged as one of the strong bases of MNS. But it made a turn around. Thane has been strong base of Marathi manus. It voted for Sena. No doubt the BJP won other eight corporations, but in real sense Sena has been ultimate gainer in long term perspective. The gains for the BJP are fragile. The day the Congress high command finds a suitable leader to entrust the responsibility and the party gets a foothold the non-Marathi people will come back. Besides the results of the Uttar Pradesh will have a strong impact on the Mumbai loyalties. A victory for Akhilesh will witness a new churning in Maharashtra.
In the existing situation the non-Marathi Hindus have high hopes from Maharashtra chief minister, Fadnavis. But it is also a fact he could not dare to antagonize and alienate the Marathis. His ultimate priority would be to protect the interest of the Marathi manus. Obviously in such a backdrop he would not be able to do justice to the non-Marathi Hindus from north India. In fact the Congress does not need to feel dejected at losing the number of seats. Gaining 31 seats in this backdrop in fact has been a major gain. The Congress could get this when the internal clashes and bickering was in the worst shape and significant realignment of forces was taking place. In Congress the Marathi lobby was working to ensure the defeat of the candidates fielded by the party chief Sanjay Nirupam who hails from Patna. The recent shift of north Indian voters to the BJP has further made his position vulnerable.
Significantly even in this scenario at least four candidates of Owaisi led MIM have won. It obviously implied that the anti-BJP votes did not polarize. To appease and entice the non Marathi voters the BJP has followed the policy of the Congress. Instead of fielding its own cadres, the party poached leaders from secular parties. More than half of BJP’s elected corporators are from the NCP, Congress or Shiv Sena. The BJP selectively wooed many lieutenants of Sharad Pawar. Whether it is in Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad or Nasik the BJP’s victorious candidates are from Congress or NCP. In Nashik Raj Thackeray’s MNS was ruling for last five years. But in this election all his lieutenants deserted him and joined Sena or BJP.
In fact the rural Maharashtra offered some solace to the Congress and the NCP. Together, the two parties have a better haul than the BJP. There are talks of rapprochement between the two parties. Politics is the most unpredictable game. They may come together to form the council and corporations. But going by the current political mood it appears that both will wait till 2019. Till then they will try to evolve some working formula. Sena knows its support base is vulnerable to poaching by the BJP. Any kind of closeness will be dangerous for Sena. It may also lose its support base. (IPA)

Wednesday, 1 March, 2017