Millennium Post

Divorce sealed with a teaser

The first cabinet expansion of the present government at the centre headed by Narendra Modi has generated the copious heat in the two political parties, ruthlessly championing the cause of Hindutva right from the beginning. In fact the expansion has come with a teaser to a regional political party of Maharashtra.  The party had left everything to be settled between the two estranged partners on Aditya, a young descendent of late Bal Thackeray who had the best working equation with  Pramod Mahajan of the saffron party. 

The Shiv Sena founded by Bal Thackeray faced shock in recent elections to the Assembly. It would have been in the fitness of things,  if Shiv Sena had sincerely thought of an introspection to know what failed in its efforts to earn substantial political mileage out of its magical Marathi Manoos brahmastra. The Shiv Sena kept on changing its stand on daily basis leaving little scope for clarity on the issues involved. 

The party after winning just 63 seats in the 288 member Assembly first demanded the post of the CM and later on stressed for the adoption of the 1995 formula envisaging the post of the Dy. CM and key portfolios for the junior partner in the coalition. The party became restless after an announcement of the NCP offering outside support to the minority government of the BJP.  The Shiv Sena continued to linger on the discussions on the issue of joining the state government till its formation and the Union government till swearing in of the new entrants in Rashtrapati Bhavan. 

The Shiv Sena lost everything due to its lust for maximum berths, with attractive portfolios, disproportionate to its strength in the Assembly and Lok Sabha. During the cabinet expansion of the Modi government, Shiv Sena declined to accept an MOS berth offered by the BJP and continued using its bargaining skills in getting the desired berths. Anil Desai as recommended by the Sena pramukh was supposed to be inducted in the council of ministers. He kept awaiting clearance from Udhav Thackery. 

The green signal was not issued and which resulted in an unprecedented blush for Desai who was at New Delhi. The party even placed a rider to decide first on Maharashtra prior to joining the Union cabinet.  This might have compelled the BJP to manage its minority government in the state.
 The real shock came when a Shiv Sena member and a former cabinet minister in the first NDA government, Suresh Prabhu was administered oath as a cabinet minister during the swearing in ceremony organised to effect an expansion in the cabinet. 

Prabhu, not a member of any house of Parliament, no doubt, carries rich experience and record of producing the desired results even on extreme difficult turfs. Prabhu is regarded as an honest, intelligent and hardworking public figure with comprehensive and in depth knowledge of economic affairs.  He represented Rajapur, Maharashtra in Lok Sabha for four terms.  Being a cabinet minister in Vajpayee government, Prabhu handled portfolios of chemical fertilisers, power, heavy industries and public enterprises and forests. The Asia Week rated Prabhu as one of the three future leaders of the country whereas the India Today rated him as the second best performing minister in the then NDA government. 

He had been the chairman of a task force on inter linking the rivers in the country.  Modi government appointed Prabhu as head of a high level panel on power revamp i.e. an advisory group on integrated development of power, coal and renewable energy. Prabhu as nominated chairman of the South Asia Water Conference has earned appreciation for his valuable contribution. Modi government has also been utilising the capabilities of Prabhu at international levels. Immediately after Prabhu’s induction in the cabinet, Shiv Sena was left fuming and Sainiks started demanding his expulsion from the party.  Prabhu without waiting for an action by Shiv Sena resigned from the party and joined the BJP.  It is seen as a wonderful catch by the PM, though Sena has taken it as an insult.

The best part on behalf of the BJP has been to keep the worried Shiv Sena engaged in contacting Amit Shah and avoiding response. It is a known fact that Uddhav continued contacting Shah to seek clarification on power sharing formula in Maharashtra and even status  about the would be ministers belonging to his party in the expanded Union cabinet.  This made clear the eagerness of Uddhav on joining the government as he could not afford to remain out of power even after a long wait of 15 years.  Seemingly, Uddhav has no alternative other than to sit on the opposition benches in the Assembly. 

This will also suit the BJP as the party does not want to see the Congress as a recognised opposition party in the Assembly.  This situation probably will satisfy the saffron party to see that the state become Congress free.  A teaser in the form of induction of Prabhu in the Union cabinet is not only going to formalise the divorce between the two parties but putting Sena in the state of limbo for at least next couple of years.

The author is a communication consultant

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