By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai: Adding a whole new dimension to the ongoing political drama in Maharashtra, a top Shiv Sena leader has suggested calling Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari to resolve the crisis between the BJP and the Shiv Sena amicably.
Sena President Uddhav Thackeray’s advisor Kishore Tiwari shot off a ‘top priority’ letter to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat seeking his urgent intervention in the matter.
“We have demanded that the Bharatiya Janata Party should deploy its senior leader and Minister Nitin Gadkari for the negotiations with Sena. We are confident that he will not just honour ‘alliance dharma’ to the hilt, but also resolve the imbroglio within two hours,” Tiwari told IANS.
He claimed that once the impasse is broken, Sena President Uddhav Thackeray can be sworn-in as Chief Minister for the first 30 months and the BJP can decide who its nominee will be for the remaining 30-month tenure.
“Considering the current mood both within the BJP and the Sena given present Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ individualistic and overbearing style of functioning, its imperative that a politically seasoned person like Gadkari be repatriated to Maharashtra to fulfil the joint agenda of Hindutva and development of the two allies,” Tiwari said.
While the RSS’ response to Tiwari’s missive is not known, its mouthpiece, ‘Tarun Bharat’ responded with an editorial mouthful to Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, calling him “a liar, a ghoul, a clown,” and a “Sheikh Chilli”, after the famous folktale.
Tiwari’s letter came strategically — before Fadnavis called on BJP President and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Congress President Sonia Gandhi invited Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar for a tete-a-tete, and hours before Raut was scheduled to pay a ‘courtesy call’ on Maharashtra Governor B.S. Koshyari — all for the common cause of breaking the state’s political deadlock.
For the BJP, the dilemma goes beyond Maharashtra, party circles indicate.
For one, it simply cannot afford to have a “non-BJP” chief minister in the country’s second-most politically crucial state ahead of the much-anticipated Ayodhya case verdict, particularly since Shiv Sena may exploit the Ram temple issue in a big way.
Two, giving up the Maharashtra CM’s post would impact not only the Jharkhand Assembly elections that start November 30, but also trigger a cascading effect in other state Assembly elections scheduled for 2020.
Worried about the fallout among their voters, both the Congress and NCP are likely to adopt a cautious approach — revealing their cards only “if and after the BJP fails a floor test and the Sena actually decides to quit the NDA”, according to leaders on both sides.
Some like former Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam have even gone to the extent of warning the party leadership not to take the Sena-BJP war at face value and wait for the situation to crystallise before jumping in to extend support.
Similarly, Mumbai NCP President has also asked his party to ‘wait-and-watch’ the fluid political situation before making any commitment to prop up a Sena-led government.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])