All around unease in Maharashtra government
Both BJP and Shinde MLAs believe they will be the ultimate losers
Taking on Ajit Pawar and his band of supporters both Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis may have been hasty forming the alliance but are now having to repent at leisure.
Despite a dinner meeting last weekend with party MLAs, Fadnavis has been unable to pacify or calm them down- they have multiple issues that they believe Fadnavis incapable of sorting out. Firstly there are limited berths in the cabinet and Ajit is driving a hard bargain for the most plum departments in the government for his men. The BJP MLAs believe Fadnavis will be unable to resist and may have to give in, thus snatching those berths from his own men.
Secondly, most of Ajit’s supporters are stalwarts with long years in electoral politics and the BJP men feel when it comes to seat sharing all the NCP men may dig in their heels and insist on contesting from their own constituencies that would once again conflict with the BJP’s interests.
As for the Eknath Shinde Shiv Sena, the major reason they quit the Maha Vikas Aghadi was that the NCP men were already dominating the districts where they have constituencies and, in addition, Ajit as finance minister was not extending any funds to the Shiv Sainiks for developing their constituencies. They fear the return of similar domination which is why already about a half dozen of them have already approached Uddhav Thackeray seeking a homecoming.
Moreover, they are likely to be the bigger losers during cabinet expansion. With overcrowding by aspirants, there are suggestions that the BJP would like to await the Speaker’s decision on the disqualification of the Shinde MLAs – now if any one of them is disqualified, Shinde is unlikely to escape the axe himself. That is likely to lead to a fall of his government and that is another reason why his men are seeking a return to the original Shiv Sena.
Meanwhile, there have been more MLAs who have switched back to Sharad Pawar after initially walking out with Ajit. The change of heart seems to have happened after noting that Pawar has lost none of his connect with the masses and may have more sympathy among the people than his nephew.
This was apparent when no one turned up to welcome the rebel NCP men as they returned to their constituencies this week and some of them compelled school children to line the roads in the monsoon to greet them on their return.
The staged welcome has reminded people of what the BJP has been doing in recent years to drum up reception parties for Narendra Modi. That has not been how the NCP deals with its constituents and it has caused more turmoil among the people than the rebels would have wanted.