The high price of desperation: Behind the scenes of final Sena-BJP break


Mumbai: Shiv Sena’s poor floor management in the Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday, allowing the BJP government to sail through the crucial trust vote, was one of the many examples of how it had committed such mistakes in last 15-20 days after the state polls.

Political analysts say that it was a replay of actions of how BJP ditched the Sena during the seat-sharing talks when the BJP broke its alliance with its 25-year-old partner before the elections. While the BJP said that the decision not to include Sena in the government was decided beforehand, Sena leaders blamed the party leadership for its indecisiveness and failure to read the signals given by BJP in the last couple of weeks.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. PTI

On Wednesday too, Sena legislators failed badly in managing the floor as the Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra sailed through the trust vote despite being in a minority. BJP passed the confidence motion by voice vote as the assembly Speaker said that the opposition parties did not demand the division of votes. Actually, the Sena and Congress were caught unawares when the assembly Speaker changed the sequence of items on the day’s agenda confusing both the opposition parties in the House. NCP was silent in the House giving indirect support to BJP.

While the BJP, under Fadnavis ensured top-end floor management, as their scripted plan unfolded, the Sena and Congress appeared confused and disillusioned. Defending the voice vote, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the entire process was done legally and whoever felt it was illegal could challenge it.

In what could be termed as Sena’s eternal hope in this season, the Sena was hopeful of joining the government even a few hours before the trust vote as it struggled to clarify its stand. Senior Sena leaders admitted that the party leadership had failed to tackle the political situation post assembly elections. “Instead of being aggressive, the leadership was interested in false pride and self-respect. We should have announced our leader of opposition immediately after the election results or after the Modi cabinet expansion fiasco on last Sunday,” said a Sena leader. He said that by delaying the process, Sena’s desperation for power came into the fore, allowing NCP to take advantage of the situation.

The party, which had just a day earlier said it would sit in the opposition if BJP took NCP’s support, was forced to propose its senior legislator Eknath Shinde’s name for the LoP’s post as the Congress had also sent a letter to the state legislature staking its claim for the same. Amid all these developments, Sena maintained that talks with the BJP were still on.

Party sources said that the leadership should have ideally declared its issue based support to the BJP just like NCP, to corner the BJP. It would have also forced NCP chiefSharad Pawar out of the scenario. “But, by playing the waiting game and showing eagerness to join the government, the Sena exposed its desperation to join the government,” said another Sena leader. Also, the talks over power sharing in Maharashtra never reached the table and there were no talks about the cabinet berths or the portfolios in last 15-20 days, Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire had told Firstpostearlier.

On Sunday, the Shiv Sena, by sending Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai to Delhi for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet expansion and then by calling him back from the Delhi airport itself made things worse, thus ending any scope of rapprochement with the BJP in the state. The BJP considered the incident a direct insult to the prime minister.

In another instance of gross indecisiveness and lack of direction, despite the bitter breaking of the alliance Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray did not ask party leader and Union Minister Anant Geete to resign from the NDA government. The Sena is yet to take a call on its status in the NDA. Sena leader Ramdas Kadam said on Wednesday that a call on Geete would be taken soon.

Fadnavis’s swearing-in was yet another occasion, where Sena’s indecisiveness was exposed. After announcing that it would boycott the grand function, Uddhav made a surprise appearance at the Wankhede following a series of calls from BJP leaders like Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah.

However, BJP claimed that it had decided in the last month itself that the party would not include Sena in the government in Maharashtra. A BJP leader pointed out that party president Amit Shah had said in a statement in October that Congress won’t be in opposition in Haryana and Maharashtra. “So he clearly indicated that Sena will be in the opposition. It seems that Sena failed to understand it well,” he said.

He said that BJP kept Sena engaged by saying that the talks are on with them over power sharing in Maharashtra. Sena has completely failed to read the signals given by the BJP and went on committing the mistakes from time to time, said a BJP leader

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