Bitten twice, once shy: Trust deficit behind BJP-Sena deadlock

Mumbai: Politics has always been a naked struggle for power. They say ideas and ideologies are simply ‘window dressing’ used to conceal the deeper realities of political life.

What is being enacted in Maharashtra today holds a mirror to this proven universal principle of political practice. BJP and its ally Shiv Sena have locked horns over the post of the chief minister.

Despite having a close ideological affinity, the two parties are ready to ditch each other in their mission ‘occupation Mumbai’, the financial capital of India.

The whole scenario has unmistakably revealed the trust deficit between the two Hindutva forces.

It’s quite an uncharacteristic; BJP has been observing enormous restraint in Maharashtra for two weeks. The saffron party is conducting itself with commendable discipline. Unlike in Karnataka, where the political denouement was preceded by high-profile visits between New Delhi and Bengaluru, fiery statements and confabulations, here in Maharashtra, the BJP looks tamed and a bit nervous.

Normally, opposition parties get scared of the BJP’s unbeatable skills in political martial arts. However, yesterday the BJP legislators’ meeting with the Governor was rather a sober event. It did not lay claim that it was going to form the government.

Instead, the party leaders simply ‘appraised’ the Governor of the power-sharing arrangement the BJP had with Shiv Sena and others.

On the other hand, Shiv Sena, the BJP’s hitherto trusted ally, is wary of its partner’s uncanny ability to launch a surgical strike. Fearing horse-trading by BJP, the Sena resorted to resort-politics. The doppelganger of BJP has shifted the entire lot of 56 MLAs as well as 8 independents to a posh hotel in Bandra on Thursday.

Shiv Sena looks convinced that BJP could go to any extent to come to power, and its MLAs could fall prey to power and pelf. So, the best option, available for Sena, is to remove the MLA from the reachable distance of the long hands of Modi and Amit Shah.

All MLAs have been asked not to stir out of the hotel until further instructions. Why this precaution?

Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana has the answer: the last stint in power is likely to be used to get a second stint by distributing moneybags.

This is for the first time an ally has made an open statement on the secret strength of BJP. Shiv Sena is the only party in the NDA which shares a Hindutva ideological affinity with BJP.

The relationship between BJP and other NDA parties is mostly driven by political convenience and compulsion.

There is a palpable trust deficit between to two Hindutva parties. They operate on the same principles and the parties use the same modus operandi to mobilise youth in their spheres of influence. But there does exist a subtle difference.

Irrespective of the electoral outcome, Shiva Sena is the most ferocious force at the street-level in Maharashtra. And BJP leadership knows pretty well that Maharashtra is not Gujarat. Any attempt by BJP to play Karnataka in Maharashtra will be a disaster and Shiv Sena is no Janata Dal (S).

Then, why is BJP not in a mood to agree to rotational chief ministership for the sake of taking forward the Hindutva agenda? The reason, trust deficit.

BJP had a bitter experience twice with a shared chief ministership. In both instances the partners ditched the BJP, the first to ditch the alliance was BSP (Mayawati) in 1997 and later Janata Dal (S) in 2004. On both occasions, BJP agreed for rotational chief ministership and the first chance went to the ally. When the turn of BJP chief minister came up, both BSP and Janata Dal (S) refused to support it and the coalitions fell through.

The BJP Sena deadlock, against this backdrop, appears to have realised that what matters in politics ultimately is the power, and the ideology is simply a mask.

This explains why the BJP is unyielding on sharing the rotational chief ministership even with its ideological twin. What if tomorrow Shiv Sena also refuses to pass on the baton to the BJP chief minister?

Jinka Nagaraju

Jinka Nagaraju

Jinka Nagaraju is a freelance digital media professional. He has earlier worked with Vaartha, Times of India, Asianet Telugu; and contributed to many leading digital platforms. Through his reportage Mr Nagaraju strives to understand the anthropological side of human experiences. Other than reading no bad habits

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