I VOTED for Aaditya Thackeray in the recent election to the Maharshtra Assembly knowing that he and the Shiv Sena would be the buffer between the public and one-party rule. Little did I imagine that the situation would go completely out of control because of the firm stand taken by Aaditya’s father, Uddhav Thackeray, who succeeded his own father, Balasaheb, as the Shiv Sena Pramukh.
Uddhav insists that Amit Shah had promised him a 50:50 share in power sharing and that included equal time as Chief Minister. That meant that the BJP Chief Minister would be replaced by the Sena’s nominee after two-and-a-half years. I am inclined to believe Uddhav, though the BJP has stoutly denied making any such promise. Amit Shah did not visit Mumbai during the entire impasse, which lends credence to Uddhav’s claim. In the past, Amit Shah has always come in at a crucial point in the negotiations and has always managed to coax Uddhav to relent.
As I said earlier, I never thought that government formation in my home state would come to this sorry pass. The election results were declared on October 24, there is no government in Maharashtra till date! The rumour is that the NCP of Sharad Pawar and the Congress will both support the Shiv Sena in order to keep the BJP out. This is possible but to ordinary mortals like us, it will be a cause for worry. To begin with, the outgoing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was acceptable to all. He was hardworking, personally honest and very quick in giving decisions. The speed with which he undertook the infrastructure building in the city was extremely commendable. I doubt if anyone I know in the Shiv Sena,
barring Aaditya, would be able to match his achievements. But Aaditya has still to be tested.
Politics is a very curious game. And when it is played between deft practitioners like Sharad Pawar and Amit Shah, it becomes even more interesting. The only view I take on the present scenario is that a juggernaut that was rolling and rolling has now been slowed down and that is not a bad thing. As Lord Acton had so famously remarked, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Before absolute power was achieved by the rolling juggernaut, it was propitious that the wheels of the chariot were halted in their tracks. It was left to Maharashtra and the Shiv Sena and of course to Sharad Pawar, who had played his own part in the drama, to contribute to the BJP’s setback. A big state boasting of the country’s commercial capital, which was considered by everyone (including me) to be in their pocket, has now broken free.
Of course I agree that politics may take an even more curious turn with this development and we have to wait and watch.
Ayodhya closure, finally
The Ayodhya judgment was keenly awaited. Like cricket lovers glued to the big screen during international matches, people in my city waited to hear the ruling on TV last Saturday. The vast majority of people I spoke to and interacted with were happy that peace could now be on the horizon. Most of the Muslims of the less affluent variety were not satisfied. They thought that injustice had been done to the community. Hindus of the same economic bracket felt exactly the opposite, but thankfully their reactions were muted.
Personally, I thought that the learned men who constituted the Bench had the nation’s well-being in mind. Contradictions in their reasoning are apparent but I have no doubt at all that they were aiming for closure, which meant that legal niceties would need some circumvention. As one who has worked for communal harmony in my city for the past 25 years, I welcomed the judgment. I felt like Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah that the Muslims would have come off very positively in the common man’s eye if they had themselves offered to surrender their claim to the geographical location where common Hindus, not inimical to other faiths, believe that Lord Rama was born. It is a matter of faith and not of scientific inquiry. This country has more that 80 per cent Hindus and their feelings need to be respected. In our neighbouring country, belief would certainly prevail over science if religion was involved!
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