A political crisis is unfolding in Maharashtra and it concerns the ruling MVA government. Will it topple?
The biennial MLC election in Maharashtra was held on 20 June.
Of the 10 council seats up for grabs, the BJP was expected to win four, with the remaining seats going to the ruling MVA and shared among Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress.
To everyone’s surprise, the BJP won a fifth seat, defeating a Congress candidate.
Cross-voting is suspected to have taken place in the election.
The rebellion within. The Maharashtra MLC election threw up a scenario out of left field — Shiv Sena’s Thane strongman, Eknath Shinde, rebelled against the party.
Shinde was camping in a Surat hotel with rebel MLAs, which has now swelled to 40 as they all gather in Guwahati, Assam.
Eknath Shinde was favourite to be the chief minister ever since the MVA came into being in 2019, but it was decided that Uddhav Thackeray will take up the top job.
Moreover, the Congress and NCP did not accept Shinde as the CM face.
This led to the sidelining of Shinde within the Sena.
And why now?
Shinde may have been in touch with disgruntled Sena MLAs from long before and would have brought them around to his plan.
Shinde’s action seems to have been triggered by the party keeping him away from MLC election planning.
Not for the first time. This has played out before within the Sena, as Chhagan Bhujbal, Narayan Rane, and Raj Thackeray were similarly sidelined and conditions created for their exit from the party.
But the party wouldn’t have expected this extreme step from Shinde this soon.
The MVA government is unpopular.
This government was formed against the people's mandate with the Shiv Sena aligning with ideological and political rivals NCP and Congress.
They have been embroiled in corruption.
They have shown indifference towards various sections of society, like farmers, students, electricity consumers, and traders.
Tough going for certain Sena MLAs.
Sena MLAs in rural areas have mainly faced the NCP and Congress in past elections.
Now that they are politically aligned, they have grievances — of mistreatment at the hands of NCP leaders and workers, of not receiving funds for their assembly constituencies, and of being ignored during project approvals.
Rural MLAs of the Sena fear for their political career in case the MVA alliance fights the next assembly election together. They fear losing their seat to the NCP and Congress or from sabotage by the new allies.
Naturally, most of the Sena rebel MLAs are from the rural pockets.
So, will the MVA government fall?
Hard to say now as it is unclear if the rebel MLAs with Shinde will stick with him or come back to their parent party claiming they were forced to side with Shinde.
Not to forget the anti-defection law. The Speaker could disqualify the rebel MLAs if the numbers do not satisfy the anti-defection law. A legal battle may also be on the cards.
The BJP could bring a no-confidence motion against the MVA government and the Speaker’s role will come into play.
If numbers favour them, it remains to be seen if the BJP would want to form a government with Sena rebels and independents, or go for mid-term polls after dissolving the assembly.
All good if Shinde returns?
If Shinde is mollified and comes back, the MVA government will be saved. However, it would become a zombie government; that is, dead but walking.
Even if he is back, the trust deficit among the three parties of the MVA would make the government incapable of taking any major decisions.
And if Shinde leaves? This will have a major impact on the Sena’s chances of winning the Thane Municipal corporation or the Kalyan-Dombivali municipal corporation and other small municipalities in the MMR region.
If Shinde forms a separate group of 10-15 MLAs and is able to get them re-elected, he can be an ally to the BJP. This is in case he and his supporting MLAs do not join the BJP. This will have major implications as the Sena would be reduced to 45 MLAs in the assembly and the NCP may ask for the chief minister’s post given their superior numbers.
Bottomline. If the MVA government survives, it may become a lame-duck government midway through its term. Governance may take a back seat and more rebellions could be anticipated.
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