The political upheavals in Maharashtra are being interpreted in different ways. Though as of now curtains are pulled down on more than a month-long drama, what was the mandate, who betrayed the mandate, whether Shiv-Sena has compromised with the core ideology, should Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have experimented alliance with Ajit Pawar and what will be the future of this Government etc, these questions will haunt the political pundits at least for some time. Though the answers to these questions depend on one’s political position, there are political, arithmetic and ethical verticals to explain it.
It is real politics, where acquisition of power for distributive purpose is the ultimate goal. From the realist perspective, the political space of Shiv Sena was shrinking day by day, not because of the BJP but due to series of divisions and deterioration in organisational structure after the demise of Balasaheb Thackeray. BJP’s economic policies were reducing the influence of Shiv Sena in its bastion of Mumbai and Thane. Regaining that ground by hook or crook is the natural aspiration for which the regional outfit not only ditched the three-decade-long partner but also compromised with the core ideological position, perhaps planned this move well before the results were out.
Traditionally, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress combine have had an entrenched interest in the political economy of Maharashtra. Despite the initial hiccups within the Congress, BJP’s alignment with Ajit Pawar led NCP pushed it in a huddle and forced to make compromises with the party formed by the most bitter critic of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. All these combinations were about mathematics. As the art of best possible, all parties were playing the game of numbers, in which Sharad Pawar has a terrific track record in Maharashtra since 1978. He used all his muscle to be maker and breaker of this Government. What Ajit Pawar is contemplating after his perceived revolt about his role is still not clear as the subtle voices of Ajit Pawar for CM are still echoing in the NCP camp; so the number game is still not over.
Ethics or morality is the next matrix where we find many arguments are made. For a party like Shiv Sena, it does not make much difference. To remind one about Late Balasaheb Thackeray and his words about Congress and NCP is a wrong strategy as long as a member of the Thackeray family is leading the Government. Even for the NCP, moral question is immaterial. Sharad Pawar is back as a power centre, and he will ensure that the interests of the lobby he stands for are protected. For Congress at the national level, there is a bit of ‘secular’ dilemma but for the State unit remaining in the power corridors even after electoral debacle is a great moral victory. For the electorates, the BJP is still a moral compass, and the core voters of the party do not appreciate their party compromising on core issues or even making electoral adjustments with the perceived corrupts.
Here the voters come into the picture. Their mandate is betrayed at all levels by all the parties. The regional elites will try to make a comeback with politics and mathematics but what will happen to ethical aspects of democracy is the pertaining question for voters. To get the answer to many such questions, they will have to wait for another the assembly election. Till then, following the path of Bhagavad Geeta, who carries on the path of Dharma and without any doubts unanswered, satisfy the expectations of voters holds the key. This model can have national ramifications with unfolding of another wave of anti-BJPism. Though the BJP has defeated it in Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with rigour and conviction, reinvigorating the same in Maharashtra will be a great challenge.