What Eknath Shinde As CM Means For Politics In Maharashtra
Eknath Shinde being sworn in as Maharashtra CM has surprised everyone. Here's what it means for the political dynamics of the state.
Fadnavis cut to size? Devendra Fadnavis assumed charge as the Deputy CM, but had earlier announced that he will be staying out of the government.
This shows that the coup was almost entirely conceptualised and executed by the BJP's central leadership, with the state unit having a marginal role.
Fadnavis' rise had clipped the wings of the OBC leadership in Maharashtra BJP, but, with Shinde, BJP wants to win back the Marathas.
The BJP’s long game seems to be to support Shinde and a Sena-led government till the next assembly elections in 2024 and get Fadnavis back as CM with a full majority.
Shrinking Thackeray influence: Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena has been reduced to a metropolitan relic. Their regions of strength had largely been the greater Mumbai and coastal regions, but even there, a decisive electoral edge was provided by the BJP.
Even in the Mumbai-Thane region, the Thackerays’ hold has shrunk markedly from what it was in 2019. The Thackeray faction does not hold a single seat in Thane and has abased itself to a few, scattered pockets in south and central Mumbai.
Shinde’s ascent means that the Thackerays will lose control of Mumbai Corporation in local body polls, scheduled to be held later this year.
Impact on political culture: The Maharashtra episode is one more proof that dynastic politics doesn’t pay off, as it inevitably becomes afflicted at some point by the Icarus Syndrome.
The Shinde faction’s unceremonious ouster of the party’s founding family now offers a template to those who fret over the decline of the Congress. It is both evidence and warning that either a party can survive, or its first family, but not both.
The fact that the Shinde faction broke with Thackeray on the issue of Hindutva means that an end point for secularism has been set off in the state.
Impact on political parties: The biggest blow will be faced by Sharad Pawar and his NCP. With Shinde at the helm, Pawar is on the backfoot because he knows that the BJP will aggressively work to make further inroads into his bastion of western Maharashtra.
By losing power, Congress is even more on the backfoot. It is reduced to fourth place today and this decline will only speed up further, as the BJP has embarked on a fresh growth phase in the state.
The Thackeray faction doesn’t just lose the bulk of its relevance in state and Mumbai politics, but at the centre as well. This is because an exodus by their parliamentarians is on the cards, since those Sena MPs know that they will struggle to get re-elected now that the Sena-BJP vote is gone.
The BJP’s ascent to primacy in the Mumbai Corporation with Shinde's help would be just the fillip the party seeks in the run-up to the 2024 general elections; because if the two top political prizes in India are Maharashtra and UP, then Mumbai is a close third.
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