The claim on TV channels on Tuesday that more than 30 Shiv Sena MLAs have rebelled appears to be an exaggeration.The Shiv Sena has already accounted for most of those on the list of rebels and the BJP is in need of more MLAs in order to form a government in Maharashtra. Congress and Nationalist Congress party have swiftly secured their flocks but it’s now clear that the crossvoting that took place from Congress ranks during the Vidhan Parishad elections and the lone Sena MLA who deliberately ensured that his vote at the Rajya Sabha polls would be declared invalid acted under coercion or quid-pro-quo.
The Shiv Sena, which is trying hard to resolve the issue, sent trouble shooters to Surat in Gujarat, when Shinde made it clear that he was still with the Shiv Sena but would like the party to form a government with the BJP and not sacrifice on Bal Thackeray’s Hindutva.
Uddhav Thackeray faces possibly the deepest crisis of his political career and how he resolves it could make or break him and his party. His rebellion against the BJP in 2019 was based on the recognition that the BJP was out to decimate his party and any giving in to the demand to ally with the BJP again could sound the death knell of his party because the BJP is unlikely to forgive or forget all that has gone between them in the past.
He has also been redefining Hindutva to fit in with the larger concept of Hindu liberalism and the principle of Sarva Dharma Sambhav. When Thackeray Sr. had cottoned on to Hindutva in the mid-1980s, his rhetoric was too shrill for even the BJP which then had been experimenting with Gandhian socialism. Today, no one can do Hindutva better than the BJP and returning to its fold will completely submerge his party’s identity and make him a weakling who could not stand up to blackmail from his own legislators.
If the situation is not resolved amicably, the MVA partners may choose a mid-term poll ceding the government to the BJP. With several municipal elections round the corner as well, the stakes are very high for both sides, though MVA members insist that while they are facing a crisis, they are not worried about an imminent fall of their government. And that the desperation is all on the side of the BJP and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.