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Governance taking a backseat in Maharashtra as BJP and Sena are busy bickering

The ruling alliance is getting increasingly brittle as neither of the parties are giving up any opportunity to claim political one-upmanship

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray

It wasn’t a coincidence that when the finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar was presenting Maharashtra’s annual budget on March 18, BJP’s junior partner Shiv Sena had organised bandh in the Marathi-speaking dominated Girgaum locality to protest against the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro III project.  Shiv Sena, which unwillingly joined the government on December 5, targeted BJP and the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis while supporting the residents opposed to relocation from their dwellings due to the project.

As per project plans, 26 buildings need to be demolished to make way for the proposed Girgaum and Kalbadevi stations. Local residents are opposed as more than 600 families and over 200 commercial establishments will be affected. Besides, Shiv Sena castigated the finance minister for not providing adequate funds for a number of infrastructure projects slated for Mumbai.

This is not an isolated incident. BJP and Shiv Sena have been taking every opportunity to take a swipe against each other on a number of issues ranging from farmers suicides, law and order, BJP’s debacle in the Delhi assembly poll and its decision to form government with PDP in J&K. Last week, Shiv Sena slammed BJP  for backing the no-confidence motion against Legislative Council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh and “betraying” the people of the state. Shiv Sena minister Ramdas Kadam alleged that the Sena has been cheated by the BJP.

BJP outsmarted Shiv Sena by making it withdraw its nominee from the election to the post of state council chairman. That led to the unanimous election of NCP veteran Ramraje Nimbalkar.

Political analyst and senior editor Kumar Ketkar notes ‘’Maharashtra politics resembles the Bollywood style love / hate triangle, “Pati, Patni aur Woh”. The role of “Pati” is of course played by the BJP, enacted by Amit Shah. The “Patni” is permanently nagging, complaining and quarrelsome Shiv Sena, acted by Uddhav Thackreay. And the “Woh” is none else but redoubtable Sharad Pawar of the NCP. It is not theatre of the absurd, but a hilarious farce, if one is prepared to take a lighter view of what is known as Maharashtra politics.’’
 
The verbal duel is expected to go on till election to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation is slated for February 2017, which has been ruled by the saffron allies for last 20 years. Buoyed by BJP’s sterling performance in Mumbai in particular in the assembly and Lok Sabha elections, the party has already declared that it will make all efforts to see that BJP’s mayor is elected to the India’s richest civic body. However, Shiv Sena is reaching out to the Marathi Manoos to retain party’s supremacy.

Shiv Sena abstained from voting on the Land Acquisition Bill in the parliament saying that there is no question of supporting any law that goes against the interest of farmers. BJP retaliated by shooting down Shiv Sena’s  move to allow rooftop restaurants in Mumbai. BJP voted against the new rooftop restaurant policy proposed by the Shiv Sena. Furthermore, the Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray attacked Mumbai’s Draft Development Plan suggesting FSI hike and declared that he would throw the plan in the dustbin, if it doesn’t lead to cheaper homes and open spaces. However, Fadnavis, who has taken a lead to keep Mumbai infrastructure development on fast track, defended slew of modifications and assured that Final Development Plan will be cleared only after due consultation process.

However, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Ratnakar Mahajan says: “BJP and Sena are currently engaged in the slanging match. They are targetting each other and will reach at a stage when BJP will look for an alternative arrangement.”

Uddhav  and Sena leaders therefore keep on reminding BJP that Sena’s participation in the government  was “as an adjustment for the sake of Maharashtra and it wouldn’t brook any mis-steps from BJP.  However, BJP is least bothered as the party is confident of staying afloat by NCP taking on board if Shiv Sena decides to call it a day.

Ketkar opines Mantralaya is witnessing a unique spectacle of administration without governance. “Modi’s slogan was “governance” but nobody had imagined that a major state like Maharashtra could be run by a party, which is internally so splintered that it cannot govern its own affairs. The RSS is trying to prompt the actors from the wings, but the actors are delivering their own dialogues. As result, the theatre loving Maharashtra is enjoying the Pati, Patni aur Woh show” he said.

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The ruling alliance is getting increasingly brittle as neither of the parties are giving up any opportunity to claim political one-upmanship

The ruling alliance is getting increasingly brittle as neither of the parties are giving up any opportunity to claim political one-upmanship

It wasn’t a coincidence that when the finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar was presenting Maharashtra’s annual budget on March 18, BJP’s junior partner Shiv Sena had organised bandh in the Marathi-speaking dominated Girgaum locality to protest against the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro III project.  Shiv Sena, which unwillingly joined the government on December 5, targeted BJP and the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis while supporting the residents opposed to relocation from their dwellings due to the project.

As per project plans, 26 buildings need to be demolished to make way for the proposed Girgaum and Kalbadevi stations. Local residents are opposed as more than 600 families and over 200 commercial establishments will be affected. Besides, Shiv Sena castigated the finance minister for not providing adequate funds for a number of infrastructure projects slated for Mumbai.

This is not an isolated incident. BJP and Shiv Sena have been taking every opportunity to take a swipe against each other on a number of issues ranging from farmers suicides, law and order, BJP’s debacle in the Delhi assembly poll and its decision to form government with PDP in J&K. Last week, Shiv Sena slammed BJP  for backing the no-confidence motion against Legislative Council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh and “betraying” the people of the state. Shiv Sena minister Ramdas Kadam alleged that the Sena has been cheated by the BJP.

BJP outsmarted Shiv Sena by making it withdraw its nominee from the election to the post of state council chairman. That led to the unanimous election of NCP veteran Ramraje Nimbalkar.

Political analyst and senior editor Kumar Ketkar notes ‘’Maharashtra politics resembles the Bollywood style love / hate triangle, “Pati, Patni aur Woh”. The role of “Pati” is of course played by the BJP, enacted by Amit Shah. The “Patni” is permanently nagging, complaining and quarrelsome Shiv Sena, acted by Uddhav Thackreay. And the “Woh” is none else but redoubtable Sharad Pawar of the NCP. It is not theatre of the absurd, but a hilarious farce, if one is prepared to take a lighter view of what is known as Maharashtra politics.’’
 
The verbal duel is expected to go on till election to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation is slated for February 2017, which has been ruled by the saffron allies for last 20 years. Buoyed by BJP’s sterling performance in Mumbai in particular in the assembly and Lok Sabha elections, the party has already declared that it will make all efforts to see that BJP’s mayor is elected to the India’s richest civic body. However, Shiv Sena is reaching out to the Marathi Manoos to retain party’s supremacy.

Shiv Sena abstained from voting on the