The elections to Haryana and Maharashtra are on October 15, 2014. The most un-expected things have happened. In Maharashtra, the 25 year old iron alliance with the Shiv Sena was broken. This sudden situation has surprised everyone. You see, the BJP did not act as it was expected. The BJP refused to be insulted and refused to succumb to threats. The problem with threats is sometimes threats do not work.
Ideally, BJP which is in power in Delhi needed to have Shiv Sena in Maharashtra to win state elections. If the Congress party forms a government in these two states, it will be a major setback to BJP.
But the BJP had no option but to reject Shiva Sena in Maharashtra To use the words of the Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s words when he ended the Second World war i “The Japanese people must endure the un-endurable and bear the un-bearable”. Similarly, the BJP had to take such a difficult decision with regard to the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. BJP knows that the decision to reject the Shiv Sena is going to lead to very difficult times and a sure defeat. But it was left with no option.
- Shiv Sena and the BJP first had an alliance in Maharashtra 25 years ago. It was a very successful alliance and Shiv Sena formed the government with BJP in 1994. In every Lok Sabha election, BJP-Shiv Sena alliance won many MPs. In 2014, out of 48 MPs in Maharashtra, BJP –Shiv Sena alliance won 42 MPs. It was an outstanding success.
- The BJP naturally felt that it was the popularity of Narendra Modi which brought the massive victory. The BJP was always the junior partner in Maharashtra. But it now won more MPs and wanted growth. Moreover, under Udhav Thackeray, Shiv sena was declining. Therefore, BJP started demanding more seats and even Chief Minister Ship of Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena on is part started saying openly to the media that it wanted the Chief Ministership for Udhav Thackeray. These open demands in the media started creating a gulf which widened.
- The sudden death of BJP leader Gopinath Munde also created a void in BJP and it had no one who could deal with the Shiv Sena carefully. On its part, the Shiv sena also had only junior leaders and there was no one who would advise Udhav Thackeray. Both the BJP and Shiv sena had no leaders and this led to the drift.
- For the Shiv sena, the chance to lead Maharashtra would give it a second life. The Shiv Sena was desperate to head the government. For the last 8 years, the cousin of Udhav, Raj Thackeray was eating away the support of Shiv sena. Moreover, Udhav Thackeray could not cope with Sharad Pawar and the Congress. There was a definite decline of Shiv sena and everyone felt that the death of Bal Thackeray would finish the Shiv Sena . But the sudden victory of the BJP in 2014 reversed this trend and gave hope to the Shiv sena. It had to form a government to survive.
- The BJP wanted to form a government in Maharashtra. It was the only state in Western and Central India where BJP never formed a government. The BJP had a government in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. It also headed a government in Karnataka for 5 years. It was only in Maharashtra that BJP never headed a government. Maharashtra was second largest state in the country with 48 MPs. The BJP needed to show that it dominated Maharashtra.
- BJP also realized that Udhav Thackeray was also playing a double game. He wanted to use the BJP to form a government in Maharashtra. In old times, when Vajpayee was Prime Minister, though Shiv Sena had only 15 MPs, it had many ministers and even Speakership of Lok Sabha. Now with 22 MPs, Shiv sena got only one Minister ship with a small portfolio. The Shiv sena understood that under Narendra Modi, BJP was different and would not tolerate misbehavior on the part of Shiv sena. So the Shiv sena felt that eventually the BJP would sideline it in Maharashtra and needed to grab the Government.
- The Shiv sena led a media campaign saying that Narendra Modi wave was only for Parliament elections and it no longer existed in Maharashtra. The Shiv sena criticized BJP leaders in Maharashtra that they had no stature. The Shiv Sena published articles in its magazine SAAMNA that it was only the Shiv Sena which could win in Maharashtra and the Marathas would never accept the Gujaratis Narendra Modi or Amit Shah. The anti-Modi and Anti-Amit Shah campaign was open and many insults were thrown at them.
- After recent by-elections results in Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan ,Uttar Pradesh where the BJP got poor results, Shiv Sena openly taunted the BJP saying that there was no Modi wave. It might be true, but you do not insult the Prime Minister and then expect him to be a friend. The Shiv sena also criticized the BJP for not controlling inflation. In fact, even opposition parties did not insult Narendra Modi the way Shiv sena did in the last month . The Shiv Sena said that BJP must come down to earth. These kinds of insults showed immaturity on the part of Shiv sena. .
- The other interesting part was when Narendra Modi wanted to become the BJP prime Minister candidate, Shiv sena did not support him. The Shiv sena supported L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj and made many belittling comments about Narendra Modi. No one forgets such insults. Sometimes those whom you insult become your masters. Then there will be no mercy. Over a 100 years ago, the great British writer Oscar Wilde jokingly said “You cannot be too careful in choosing your enemies “. He meant that be careful whom you make enemies with. Udhav Thakceray never calculated that Modi will become prime Minister.
- Amit Shah had become the BJP President. Narendra Modi , the RSS and the BJP cadre felt that Amit shah was a good leader and had good tactics. But Udhav Thackeray treated Amit Shah with contempt. He refused to give him the respect that a BJP President demands.
- All this bad chemistry could have been solved. But the major problem was the 24 year old son of Udhav Thackeray named Aditya Thackeray. He had no experience but was an aggressive person. His father Udhav Thackeray thought that Aditya was a genius. Most fathers make this mistake and they suffer. Aditya advised his father to have hard-line policy towards the BJP and stressed if the Shiv sena did not grab the Chief Minister sip in Maharashtra, it would not survive since the BJP would swallow it.
- Aditya Thackeray felt that the BJP had no alternative but to agree with the Shiv Sena. He felt that BJP could not afford to lose Maharashtra and hence it could be pressurized. But Aditya Thackeay never understood that sometimes blackmail does not work. The BJP felt that is better to lose Maharashtra than allow an aggressive Udhav Thackeay to become Chief Minister.
- The BJP did not want to be seen by the entire country that it was bullied by a regional party. The BJP had only two options. One was to allow Shiv Sena to win. But the BJP realized that it would actually be a defeat for it, since after winning the Shiva sena would become impossible to deal with. The other option for the BJP was that it is better to lose Maharashtra and ensure that Shiv Sena lost.
There has been some strange conduct by the Thackeray family. The 24 year old Aditya Thackeray was the chief negotiator sometimes with the BJP. This was irksome to the BJP since they considered him an in-experienced boy.
The lesson for Shiv Sena is that you must never threaten people. Because the threat may backfire. In this case, the Shiv sena is now facing a challenge all alone. Getting into war is easy. But wise generals always have an Exit Strategy…that is how to get out. The Shiv sena had no Exit Route. They forgot what happened to Abhimanyudu in Mahabharata who had no Exit Route.
Udhav Thackeray might say that King Alexander the Great of Greece conquered the world when he was only 24 years old. But Alexander fought death every day. Aditya Thackeray had no real life experience to make him a leader.
Whatever the election results, the BJP had no option but to divorce the Shiv sena. On the other hand the Shiv Sena lost everything as it listened to immature advice. A little tact and Aditya would have been the Chief Minister’s son.