Maharashtra Checkmate: BJP had left Uddhav Thackeray with little choice
Why Uddhav rebelled is easily spotted even by a distant observer. He had made the strategic mistake of shedding his regional cloak and adopting the saffron robes of the BJP
But none of this, neither the Maha ‘mess’ or the ‘Mahayuti’, would have happened if Uddhav Thackeray had not rebelled against the BJP; or if the BJP had got enough number of seats in the Assembly to shrug off its dependence on its ally.
Why Uddhav rebelled is easily spotted even by a distant observer. He had made the strategic mistake of shedding his regional cloak and adopting the saffron robes of the BJP. People in Maharashtra voting for Hindutva were not too enamoured of the Shiv Sena, but were left with no choice when the party was in an alliance with the BJP.
The BJP tried to demolish the Sena’s base with the masses over the past five years but did not quite succeed. On the eve of the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP found itself vulnerable on several counts, not the least being anti-incumbency. It possibly had doubts about winning a majority on its own and hence did not wish for a division in its Hindutva vote base.
That is why the BJP bullied, pressured, cajoled and finally persuaded the Shiv Sena into an alliance. But Uddhav Thackeray would have been aware that the BJP was all set to destroy the Shiv Sena from within the alliance over the next five years (Nitish Kumar may please note) and so he had to break loose.
The insistence by Uddhav on chief ministership was a red herring but was also seen as a bonus if it was conceded by the BJP. The Sena’s two-and-a-half year term would have helped it to consolidate its bases and shore up its grassroots support.
Aware of this, neither Fadnavis nor Amit Shah or even Modi were in a mood to give in and calculated that Uddhav had nowhere to go.
To their shock and surprise, Thackeray reached out to other partners who may not be ideologically compatible but have separate voter bases and would be no threat to his party whether in an alliance or otherwise. His gambit has worked. The regime change has been stunning and completely unexpected, to say the least.