It is unusual for a pre-poll alliance that won an Assembly election to fail in forming the Government. That Maharashtra has been placed under President’s rule, despite the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance winning a clear majority in the last assembly elections, is an exceptional development. The BJP and Sena have been partners for almost three decades, sharing power in local bodies, the state government and the Centre. This relationship was firmed up by adherence to the ideology of political Hindutva. Now, the two parties have had a seemingly bitter parting, jeopardizing the prospects of BJP-Sena Government, with Sena also quitting the NDA.
Coalition dharma was a much evoked principle in the NDA of Vajpayee and L K Advani. However, there is reason to suspect that the party, after its several electoral victories under Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, seems to be loosing the ability or willingness to engage with the partners and allies. Now the BJP’s approach seems to be more intransigent, to emphasize its numbers and insist that the regional party lower the expectation.
It is curious that the BJP’s national leadership refused to intervene in public spat involving Maharashtra leaders and Sena over the chief minister’s office and ministerial berths. Does it view the Sena’s departure as an opportunity to mobilize the entire Hindu votes in Maharashtra? Or is it an instance of the leadership failing to judge the Sena’s intent? Either way, the Maharashtra break up reflects poorly on the BJP’s management of allies even as anti-BJPism may again become the glue that can bring together disparate Opposition parties.