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Are alarm bells of mid-term assembly polls to be taken seriously?
Rohit Chandavarkar | Wednesday, 15 February 2017 AT 11:10 AM IST
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It seemed as if all state level political action suddenly moved from Mumbai to Pune on Monday evening as Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray both held several back to back campaign rallies in the city. There was gossip discussed in media circles about how despite attacking each other very bitterly at public rallies, these two top leaders exchanged some pleasantries at the VIP lounge at Pune airport when they suddenly bumped into each other. So is the big war that has broken out between BJP and Shiv Sena a genuine war or is it a drama? This is the question on everybody’s minds.

Against the backdrop of the big battle that has broken between the Sena and the BJP, Maharashtra’s senior-most political figure, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar after a long time, gave some interviews to regional news channels and spoke in detail about the current political scenario in the state.

Pawar’s impeccable connect with the masses and his ‘ear to the ground’ approach in recognising the pulse of the people has always meant his political predictions turn out to be completely correct. Now, Sharad Pawar has predicted the possibility of the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra getting destabilised after the results of the civic polls are announced towards the end of February. This should worry the BJP a lot. If the current impasse between coalition partners BJP and Shiv Sena continues the way it is going right now, Pawar’s predictions may very well come true.

The bickering between Shiv Sena and BJP according to Pawar has reached such a level that he predicts now that if Shiv Sena gets a decent level of majority in the municipal polls of Mumbai, it will prompt the Sena to challenge the BJP by moving out from Maharashtra government. In this sense, the civic polls of Maharashtra could actually be a watershed moment in the state’s political history.   

Pawar’s stress has been on how the demonetisation policy has caused immense pain to the common people, especially the farmers, small traders and other sections of the society who are yet not convinced what exactly was achieved out of the implementation of the policy. Pawar says that the traditional support base of the BJP of traders is also speaking in a very bitter tone about the BJP currently. He also targeted the BJP for not handling the post demonetisation situation seriously.

So is this a serious warning of Maharashtra facing a possibility of mid-term assembly polls?

Despite the aggressive statements and counter statements issued by Shiv Sena and BJP against each other, there seems to be no conviction on either side about separating from each other as far as the coalition partnership is concerned. During his visit to Pune on Monday, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray suddenly hinted that his party will continue to support the government if the farmers’ loans are waived off in Maharashtra! This everybody says is an escape route that Uddhav has kept open in case he does not get enough seats in the civic election test. Now, its anybody’s guess on how many seats actually will be won by the Sena and how many by the BJP in Mumbai.

The general prediction is that Shiv Sena will as usual get into the phase of posturing and create a drama about the possibility of all their ministers resigning from the Maharashtra cabinet during the last campaign rally in Mumbai but these resignations will be handed over only to the party chief and not to the chief minister. Then the Sena will wait for the poll results to roll out on February 24 and only if it has a comfortable majority in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation ( BMC), it will proceed with formal resignations to be sent to the governor.

Pawar has clearly indicated that he will not support the BJP in the state assembly in case Shiv Sena withdraws from the government and says that he supported the BJP in 2014 only because it was just after the assembly polls and he did not want Maharashtra to face instability and also indicated that the NCP may consider even backing the Shiv Sena in the state. But all this possibility emerges only if the Sena shows the courage to walk out of the State government and that totally depends on the verdict of the BMC polls which in true sense will be the deciding factor and will set the course of politics in Maharashtra in coming months and years.
 
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