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Regime change in Maharashtra shrinks NDA’s political footprint

In Haryana, too, which went to polls along with Maharashtra, the BJP could not muster up the numbers on its own and had to take the support of the regional outfit, JJP. (PTI)Premium
In Haryana, too, which went to polls along with Maharashtra, the BJP could not muster up the numbers on its own and had to take the support of the regional outfit, JJP. (PTI)

  • Uddhav’s takeover as CM today signals slowdown in momentum for BJP, which has lost 4 states in one year
  • BJP’s slowing political momentum is likely to have an impact not just on the forthcoming assembly elections in the next one year but also on the rollout of its key policies

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s imminent takeover as chief minister of Maharashtra on Thursday signals a radical shift in the political alignments in the state and a further shrinking of the saffron footprint across the nation.

Thackeray will head an alliance of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, which came together to trump the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the important western state that is home to India’s commercial capital.

Graphic: Paras Jain/Mint
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Graphic: Paras Jain/Mint


The regime change hints at a slowdown in momentum for the BJP, which had returned with a brute majority just six months ago in the Lok Sabha elections.

From an overwhelmingly saffron spread a year ago, India’s political map has begun to take on other hues, reflecting a stronger presence of states under opposition parties.

The BJP has now lost four states as the incumbent party in the last year to either the Congress—in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh in December—or an alliance with the Congress, as in Maharashtra.

In Haryana, too, which went to polls along with Maharashtra, the BJP could not muster up the numbers on its own and had to take the support of the regional outfit, the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), to return to power in an alliance. Interestingly, in both states it was the largest party in the assembly.

“These elections have come with learnings for the BJP for the upcoming polls (in three states). The party goes into these elections with a fear of such a trend repeating itself. However, it needs to learn from these elections and not sideline local leaders and also needs to give more importance to state issues," said Ashok T. Borkar, assistant professor of sociology at Nagpur University.

“State politics is now being separated from national politics. The recent elections where the BJP has lost as an incumbent have not seen enough local issues being raised," Borkar said.

The BJP’s slowing political momentum is likely to have an impact not just on the forthcoming assembly elections in the next one year—Jharkhand, Delhi, and Bihar—but also on the rollout of its key policies where it needs cooperation from states. The Goods and Services Tax Council, for instance, is a forum that has become key to the success of India’s federated tax structure.

Meanwhile,Thackeray will be sworn in as chief minister at the historic Shivaji Park, a venue that is closely linked to the Shiv Sena’s political journey that began with a rally at the venue in 1966. It is also the site where Sena founder and Uddhav’s father, Balasaheb Thackeray, was cremated seven years ago.

On Wednesday, the state finally moved closer to having a government in place after 285 newly elected MLAs took oath in the legislative assembly. Uddhav’s son, Aaditya Thackeray, became the first member of the political family to take oath as an MLA.

The NCP will get the deputy chief minister’s and deputy speaker’s post, while the Congress will get the speaker’s post, NCP leader Praful Patel told reporters after a meeting of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress on Wednesday.

He said that along with Uddhav Thackeray, one or two members from each of the three parties will take oath as ministers on Thursday evening. There will be only one deputy CM’s post in the government, he added.

The swearing-in of MLAs on Wednesday also saw signs of bonhomie between NCP lawmaker Supriya Sule and her cousin Ajit Pawar who had joined hands with the BJP on Saturday before changing his mind three days later.

All eyes are now on the fate of Ajit Pawar. While his reinstated place in the NCP as a key leader seems cemented, it would be interesting to see what post party chief Sharad Pawar decides to give him.

Thackeray’s swearing-in is being tipped as a show of Opposition strength with not just the top brass of all the three parties but also West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee expected to attend it. Aaditya Thackeray met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday night to invite her for the swearing-in.

PTI contributed to this story.

anuja@livemint.com


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