BJP bowls googly, names Shinde as captain of team

THE GOAN NETWORK | JUNE 30, 2022, 11:44 PM IST

The Maharastra political script that was heading towards a climax on Thursday morning, got an unexpected twist, stunning onlookers and political pundits alike. In a surprise turn of events, Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde emerged as the chief ministerial candidate with BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis proposing his name while staking a claim for government formation before the governor. However, the suspense was far from over. Fadnavis, who did all the legwork and was the crucial negotiator and communicator between the Shinde group and the BJP high command in Delhi, ruled himself out of the cabinet.

The kingmaker, Shinde, did ultimately turn to be the king, but  Fadnavis' reluctance to join Team Shinde followed by party president J P Nadda and Amit Shah tweets that he will be deputy CM, made it amply clear that the BJP were bowling a googly on the Mahatrashtra political pitch. The equation may appear imbalanced considering the seniority of Fadnavis and the numbers of the BJP, but that’s power politics. By giving control to Shinde and inducting Fadnavis as his deputy, the BJP high command has played a tactical masterstroke of making it extremely difficult for Uddhav to dislodge the rebels and realign.

The BJP may have compromised on the chief ministerial seat, but strategically, it is trying to wash its hands off the Shiv Sena split, much in contrast to the reality in the background where it extended hospitality and tacit support to the Sena rebels both in Maharashtra and Goa. Also, the party is trying to send a message on Hindutva to offset the backlash in Maharashtra, while smartly diverting attention towards Shinde and his men.

On the other side, BJP has moved with caution amid a hint of uncertainty. The rebel Shiv Sena is yet to pass all hurdles, including legal and constitutional challenges that the rebels could face. The original party could face a test. With the existing arrangement, the BJP would not face the ignominy in case Shinde loses out, leading to a collapse of the government. Given this probability, the BJP has played its cards very safe and shifted the focus to Shinde.

While Uddhav beats a retreat, he will certainly want to remain relevant in Maharashtra politics and hence would eye the Bombay Municipal Corporation elections in September. The BMC polls are considered to be the grand stage of State politics. Interestingly, in his resignation speech, Uddhav thanked Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar while also stressing that his team will remain in alliance with the Congress and NCP. It remains to be seen how far these friendships stretch out.

It is beyond any doubt that Shinde's quest for power has driven him to the BJP, and while the new alliance takes centrestage, the onus will be on Uddhav to rebuild the Shiv Sena and bounce back.

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