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Why Shiv Sena MPs Rebelled Against Uddhav and Son

Sena MPs saw how Uddhav Thackeray bent over backwards to keep Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi in good spirits while compromising Balasaheb’s ideals to the detriment of Sena’s dignity.

File image of Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya. PTI

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections, closely followed by the Maharashtra Assembly polls, gave a resounding mandate to the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance. The polls were contested with photos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and later Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis making their way to billboards in every constituency during the campaign.

Candidates from both parties have touted the success of the dual-powered sarkar which has seen an accelerated pace of development, an iron grip on law and order and a strong focus on Hindutva. At rallies that draw large crowds – even those attended by Uddhav Thackeray – the central BJP leadership vowed that if voted in again, Maharashtra would bring back the dynamic duo of Modi and Fadnavis to lead the government for another term.

However, as soon as the results were announced, Uddhav Thackeray usurped the post of chief minister by concocting an unholy alliance with the NCP and Congress, at the insistence of Sharad Pawar, Sonia Gandhi and Sanjay Raut. Big premium wallets entered the NCP and Congress kitty and soon Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya found themselves as mere placeholders, with their allies really running the show.

Making sense of Maharashtra's chaos Why Shiv Sena MPs rebelled against Uddhav and Son

Congresswoman Sonia Gandhi. ANI

Prior to 2014, for three terms, Maharashtra had seen what an NCP-Congress government looked like – the frequent terrorist attacks, shameless corruption and no regard for improving the quality of life of the common man. In 2014, voters finally rejected them. They replicated their term in 2019 but were backstabbed by power-hungry politicians. Once again Maharashtra’s growth came to an abrupt halt as elders like Pawar and the Congress knew full well that the alliance was going to be short-lived and focused on cow milking, exploiting it to the fullest to their advantage.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi Alliance (MVA), singularly formed to seize power with no real vision for Maharashtra’s growth and development, had no ambitious plans that would propel the state on an upward growth trajectory. As a result, big projects essential for multiple growth have been put on the back burner.

The Mumbai Metro project has been stalled with Uddhav Thackeray refusing to allocate the Supreme Court-approved land to Aarey to build the car shed, leaving people at risk of increased traffic due to the halt of metro constructions on the main thoroughfares of Mumbai. While most of the works on the Samruddhi corridor linking Mumbai to Nagpur, halving the travel time between the two cities, was initiated during Fadnavis’ tenure, the Thackeray government moved forward at snail’s speed to complete even the first phase of the project. Also Navi Mumbai Airport, which was conceptualized two decades ago and finally saw the light of day during Fadnavis’ tenure, has again been pushed into the background by the MVA.

Making sense of Maharashtra's chaos Why Shiv Sena MPs rebelled against Uddhav and Son

Environmental activists say the metro shed will lead to increased exploitation of Aarey, Mumbai’s last green lung. PTI

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train, the first of its kind in India, has faced numerous delays since the MVA refused to fast-track land acquisition needed for land allocation – by comparison, Gujarat has already completed the process of allocating the necessary land to start construction. As a result, several financiers, international capital funds and banks that had pledged to co-finance these projects got cold feet and began to withdraw from the contracts. For example, recently, due to the lack of complete political will to complete the Mumbai Metro on time, leading to endless delays, the French mobility company Bombardier Transport terminated its coach supply agreement for Mumbai Metro Line 4 mumbai.

A few months after MVA formed, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Uddhav Thackeray remained locked in his house for the two years of the pandemic. The fact that he refused to visit Maharashtra to inspect the state of affairs and only relied on a few yes-yes for updates on the ground was troubling. Aaditya seemed too indifferent to any question outside of Mumbai.

Making sense of Maharashtra's chaos Why Shiv Sena MPs rebelled against Uddhav and Son

Deputy of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. ANI

In stark contrast, Fadnavis was seen frequently driving through district after district, heading for rural towns and several government hospitals. Most of the pandemic management has been outsourced by Uddhav Thackeray to bureaucrats like Iqbal Chahal and the Maharashtra COVID-19 task force, without him making any significant contribution. There are reports that tracking and attention to genomic surveillance was so weak that when the Delta wave was born, it wasn’t until Amravati doctors started complaining of “strange” symptoms that the government became aware of the possibility of a mutated variant. The flagrant corruption in the supply of materials and tools needed to manage the pandemic and build giant hospitals has been in the news very frequently.


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People grew tired of such an underperforming government, especially if it had not been elected. Frustration began to show in local polls where Shiv Sena candidates lost ground to the advantage of the NCP and Congress. To make matters worse, Uddhav Thackeray remained inaccessible to MPs from his own party, refusing to pass funds to them for development work in their respective constituencies while happily funding NCP-Congress MPs. NCP-Congress ministers also seemed to quickly settle issues in which they had vested interests.

Making sense of Maharashtra's chaos Why Shiv Sena MPs rebelled against Uddhav and Son

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis. Twitter/@Dev_Fadnavis

Sena deputies began to feel disrespected, cheated, and overall extremely unhappy with the new power structure. They began to see how Uddhav Thackeray bent over backwards to keep Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi in good spirits while compromising Balasaheb’s ideals to the detriment of Sena’s own dignity. Sena MPs have finally seen through the fog that their party – built with their own and Balasaheb’s sweat and blood – has been set on a course of self-destruction by Balasaheb’s own family. With water above their heads, they revolted, pulled off a coup. They realized that Uddhav Thackeray’s Sena and the MVA had lost people’s trust. While it would take decades to reverse the damage done to the party over the past two and a half years, the first step should be to respect the original mandate of the people and put in place the promised governance.

The author is a political and communications strategist. “A Nation to Protect: Leading India through the Covid Crisis” is his third book. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the position of this publication.

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