A sudden turn of events in the last 48 hours in Maharashtra has done many things simultaneously in Indian politics. It has humbled modern-day Chanakyas who tried to pull a rabbit out of the hat at last minute.
BJP’s midnight drama was being showcased as the killer instinct of BJP and failure of the opposition to come together in time. But ultimately BJP had to bite the dust. Maharashtra proved that there is a limit to political manoeuvring which BJP must have realised when Ajit Pawar resigned from the position of Deputy Chief Minister.
Ajit Pawar continues to be one of the most tainted politicians in Maharashtra. BJP which projects itself as the party with a difference came out bruised and battered. By aligning with Ajit Pawar, it not only lost its credibility but also lost power within 48 hours as Ajit Pawar ditched BJP. BJP lost its handle on the issue of corruption forever. The shortsighted alliance has done more damage to BJP than what party top brass thinks to be. BJP will find it difficult to beat other parties on the issue of corruption again.
It bruised political credibility of Home Minister Amit Shah and also impacted the image of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who tweeted after Devendra Fadnavis’s swearing-in. BJP by creating a constitutional and political turmoil in the state also ended up alienating a lot of political players. BJP wanted to send the signal that there cannot be a united opposition against them, but circumstances proved them wrong.
BJP successfully sent a similar message right before the Lok Sabha election when they poached back Nitish Kumar into their fold. Today, BJP stands isolated in the context of regional parties. BJP forgot that it was able to grow by building strong and organic alliances wherever it was limited by an ideological appeal.
By getting into a fist-fight with a junior partner, BJP came across as an unfair giant who ended up being defeated by political pygmies. Both Congress and NCP were decimated by BJP in Lok Sabha elections. Today, by forging an alliance with ideologically different parties, the idea of a united opposition looks possible. Lok Sabha elections are far away but there are a number of state elections where BJP is pitched directly against regional parties. Imagine, if all political parties merge their differences to support an anti-BJP front? Maharashtra escapade of BJP has made those ideas thinkable which in past would have been ridiculed.
This is not to say that this alliance can run smoothly or can finish the entire term together. The alliance marks a churning in Indian politics where Congress party will need to play a supportive role in large parts of India. Congress which ruled Maharashtra for decades is the smallest player in the alliance. The state unit of Maharashtra prevailed over Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. On top of it, the Congress old guard was active, and Rahul Gandhi was nowhere to be seen.
The old guard led by Ahmed Patel was able to negotiate a deal with Sharad Pawar and Udhhav Thackery. It just goes on to show how little Rahul Gandhi counts when it comes to ‘real’ politics in the country. The old guard not only managed to give a good fight but also ensured that the alliance succeeds. Maharashtra alliance may function or may not but throws open a lot of political opportunities for India’s opposition which is both faceless and disunited.
BJP, on the other hand, should moderate its stand when it comes to managing regional parties. What happens is future is a larger debate but for now, regional parties are a reality and they feel threatened by BJP.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)