NCP heavyweight Ajit Pawar played a significant role in the power play that had unfolded in Maharashtra since the Assembly election results were declared on October 24.
He threw a spanner in the works of his uncle Sharad Pawar when he split the NCP to form the government along with the BJP. While Devendra Fadnavis took oath as chief minister, Ajit Pawar was sworn in as his deputy. However, senior Pawar ensured that none of the MLAs sided with nephew, forcing Mr Fadnavis to resign within 80 hours. The midnight coup did not have much of an impact on Ajit Pawar, who is expected to return as the deputy chief minister in the MVA government.
On the stability of Maha Vikas Aghadi government
The MVA has a clear majority in the Assembly as Shiv Sena (56), NCP (54) and Cong-ress (44) have 154 members in the 288-member House. Three parties with completely different ideologies have come together — particularly Cong-ress and Shiv Sena. So far, the Congress and Shiv Sena leadership have not taken any extreme stand on the issues that could put the other party in a spot of bother. Whether it was the controversy over V.D. Savarkar or the Citizenship Bill. Even Uddhav Thackeray has been careful not to say anything that would make the Congress uncomfortable. All three parties want this government to be stable.
There is also no possibility of any defection from any of the three parties as we have decided that if any MLA defects and there is a by-election, the seat will be contested by the party whose MLA has defected. The other two parties will not field any candidate, but will work for the victory of the alliance partner. In this scenario, I do not see any MLA, who can defect and still remain the MLA.
On the BJP’s claim that the MVA government will not last even for a year because of internal conflicts
It could be BJP’s strategy to spread such a message to keep the morale of their party cadre high. When the Shiv Sena-BJP came to power in 1995, they did not have a clear majority and were supported by Independent MLAs. There were 45 Independent MLAs. The Congress leadership used to hold regular interactions with the independent MLAs. The Congress cadres, therefore, were always hopeful about their party returning to power. Such things need to be done in the politics.
Uddhav Thackeray’s inexperience in parliamentary proceedings
Mr Thackeray is new to the Assembly. But he will not face any difficulty in understanding and embracing its functioning. He has been the president of his party and has campaigned extensively during elections. The Sena has several MLAs who are very experienced. Public speaking is also not an issue for Mr Thackeray. He will need to understand the rules, customs and traditions of the legislature. But he will definitely learn them soon.
Devendra Fadnavis’ frustration
No position of power is permanent in politics. As a seasoned politician, he knows that. So it is not true that he is frustrated. Currently, he is the Leader of Opposition, so he will have to criticise the government, its policies and show some aggression. There is nothing wrong with this.
The BJP’s strategy in Maharashtra
I think the BJP needs to rethink its strategy. The BJP leaders are indulging in personal attacks against the Sena leadership. When you do that, there will be a reaction. When Sudhir Mungatiwar attacked Uddhav Thackeray in the Assembly, Mr Thackeray gave it back to the BJP leaders with equal aggression. It is bound to happen. It will be anyone’s natural reaction when they face a personal attack. How can anyone show respect to someone who does not give the same respect. So, I think the BJP will have to change its strategy and avoid personal attacks. They are also losing sympathy as they started attacking the MVA government from the very first day. You have to give at least a few months to the new government to prove itself.
Challenges before Uddhav Thackeray
The biggest challenge is providing a farm loan waiver. The government will definitely announce a loan waiver. The only question is how much will be the waiver and when it will be announced. We will have to consult officials from the finance and co-operative departments. The previous Devendra Fadnavis government had provided a loan waiver two years ago and the officials who implemented the scheme are still active. This time, however, the entire scheme will have to be implemented within three to four months. People expect immediate implementation. Also, it will have to be implemented from the state’s funds. The Centre is not going to help the state government. Mr Fadnavis as chief minister had sought the Centre’s help, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi had clearly said that the Centre would not fund state’s loan waiver scheme as it could lead to other states, too, demanding the same.