Shiv Sena stands exposed thoroughly, as the most unprincipled political party among all the unprincipled ones. The desperation of S.S. was such that they complied with the pre conditions laid by NCP and INC. Their only representative in the Union Cabinet, Mr. Arvind Savant, Minister for Heavy Industries, quit the Cabinet and S.S. is no longer part of NDA. Even as the President accepted the resignation of Arvind Savant, the Maharashtra Governor concluded that the opportunity given to S.S., second in line, after BJP, to form the Government was a non starter. He went to NCP as next in the queue. NCP went through the motions before President’s rule under Art.356 of Constitution became inevitable.
It is singularly unfortunate that despite the BJP-S.S. combine, a pre election alliance, making it past the first post of 50% of 288 seats in the Assembly, Government formation has failed. S S is solely to blame for this constitutional impasse. And now reports suggest that SS is moving the Supreme Court protesting the acts of the Governor and purportedly denying them ‘sufficient time while BJP was granted longer leeway, which was discriminatory’. A party whose supremo Balasaheb Thackeray was suspended from voting and contesting in elections for 6 years by orders of the Supreme Court (1998), is now invoking constitutional means to vindicate their rights. And then forget not, the Bombay High Court had imposed a fine/simple imprisonment for contempt of court for accusations of corruption against a Judge(1997), despite prohibition. And it is this party that is today seeking to approach the top court in exercise of their constitutional rights.
While it is entertaining to follow the goings on, it is an utterly shameful and unhealthy dance of democracy. Media is having a field day in 24×7 coverage of following the leaders who are ready, willing and eager to open their loud mouths wider at the sight of the cacaphonic megaphones thrust at them. It is amusing at one level to see that every other political outfit, be it BJP, NCP, INC or S.S. and other smaller ones accusing each other of indulging in skulduggery and horse trading to capture power of the ballot.
Our votes matter. Yes, BJP led by Modi-Shah at the helm were cocksure that Devendra Fadnavis would be back with a bang with a majority for BJP itself. Voters had the last laugh, by returning BJP-S.S. combine with a reduced majority. To ensure that one was a check on the other and either did not run amok with their individual agendas. There was also a huge number elected from NCP- Congress ranks, for a healthy opposition count. Assembly was meant to be a debating house, with the opposition having a say in the affairs of the State. That was ensured.
But S.S. had and has other ideas. For the first time, breaking from Matoshree tradition, Aditya Thackeray contested and won from Worli. Balasaheb and Uddhav have never been on the ballot, as they were past masters in remote control or back seat driving. Enjoying the reins of administration without accountability. They were used to the comforts of extra constitutional routine. Alas, when the family pivoted to occupy the Gaddi, it was snapped from their grasp.
SS got furious. They claimed that BJP which has nearly twice the number by seats of S.S. had agreed to share the Chief Minister post on 50:50 or rotational basis a la Mayawati-Rajnath Singh UP style and B.S. Yeddyurappa- HD Kumaraswamy- Karnataka style gone awry. BJP was unrelenting. Having fallen short of the majority and being the largest single party by a mile, from S.S., and Fadnavis having had a 5 year uninterrupted term, BJP was unyielding, with some credible basis.
SS could not digest it. Both sides stuck to the guns and game theory parameters were stretched to limits. BJP blinked and said No. SS ran to INC via NCP, eating crow and all the ignominy associated with it. We the People know that politicians today follow Groucho Marx- If you don’t like this or that principle I offer, I have others on offer to suit you. It is all focused on pelf and self aggrandisement with grab for power, at all costs, with compromises, on whatever it takes.
SS has plunged the depths of nadir. They stand nanga not warts and all. But all warts. The other political parties are not pure and snow. But SS has achieved the near impossible. Making them look ‘principled’. That is some ask and task. The deep dive that SS has accomplished is never before seen one. The one time a Thackeray stood in the elections and won, the family is unable to accept that he cannot make it as Chief Minister. The family and hangers on are fuming. They blame BJP for the stalemate. They went with a begging bowl to others and lost out on the Central Ministry post also. It appears as if it was a conspiracy by all other political parties. to thoroughly isolate SS, for what it is and what it stands for.
There is a lesson in it for us as Voters. Among the unprincipled political outfits which contest elections with candidates rivaling in criminal antecedents ,as Cho Ramaswami said, “Voters have a dark and dismal choice. To choose between and pickpocket and dacoits. And then we have to pick on principles and ideologies associated with it. Nevertheless, we trust our candidates and keep voting them in. That we say is the strength of our democracy’.
Surely, the SS dance of democracy is unrivaled. It has bested the drama we had in the aftermath of demise of Madam Jayalalitha and Koovathur resort episodes. SS has trumped the shenanigans of our TN politicos by a long shot, considering that just 55 in a house of 288 members they could go for the jugular and claim to have been deprived of a legitimate chance. And their moving the apex court ‘to vindicate their constitutional rights’ takes the cake.
(Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court)