February 7, 2015 9:26:02 pm
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who completed 100 days on Saturday, February 7, may have managed to take the political googlies and bouncers in his stride within the coalition, but reckons the rough patches on the home pitch are here to stay. At the moment the BJP (122) and Shiv Sena (63) together 185 in the state assembly of 288 seats form a strong coalition in terms of arithmetic. But the teething problems when it comes to transforming the arithmetic into chemistry is clearly missing.
However, Fadnavis exudes optimism, “ All is well.” The Chief Minister has ensured he holds deliberations with individual ministers from BJP and Sena to ensure greater participation in the policy drive undertaken by his government.
The Chief Minister has taken the initiative in critical sectors like industry, agriculture, power and infrastructure which he is at ease in tackling. But the political pinpricks from ally Sena and in-house BJP remains a constant challenge ahead both within the cabinet and elected members (MLAs).
The Shiv Sena’s discomfort for being forced to play a second fiddle rings in Uddhav Thackeray’s warning to Fadnavis not to take the “sainiks support ” for granted. In a tactical move, Sena has ensured senior sober ministers Subash Desai and Deepak Sawant would adopt a supporting role and aggressive Ramdas Kadam and Diwakar Raote would be used to voice their dissent periodically to check the BJP’s over dominance in the government.
A senior cabinet minister (Sena) reveals, “Our conflict is often a reminder to the BJP to consider we are equal partners in policy making and power share.” The underlying theme echoing at the Sena headquarters – “Maharashtra has a stable government because of Sena.”
However BJP is not worried knowing Sena’s political compulsion to stay in power at centre and state. The Sena realises that if it break away, NCP is always waiting in the wings to lend their outside support. BJP too knows that it cannot ignore Sena which is a better bet compared to NCP as an alliance partner.
A senior BJP general secretary said, “Don’t undermine the man management skills of Fadnavis. The process of coordination within Sena and BJP has always worked through back channels.” The minister also revealed, “In last three months Fadnavis has given a loud and clear message that he has only Mission Maharashtra in mind. There is no personal agenda to promote which makes it difficult for the rivals within BJP and Sena to fault him on his administration or leadership.”
A senior Sena minister admitted, “Since we are a independent party we have to reassert our upmanship against BJP. The Chief Minister has always been very supportive on policy related matters.”
The BJP spokesperson MadhavBhandari said, “I feel the real challenge is to tackle the fiscal position and incompetent and corrupt bureaucracy. As far Sena is concerned they are allies. And coalition has its own limitations,” he added.
The former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who lead the Congress-NCP government warned, “The coalition governments have in-built problems.The Sena-BJP differences are already out in public.”
The state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said, “The greater political threat to Devendra Fadnavis is from the BJP. Even after three months some BJP leaders are not willing to accept his leadership in government.”
In public both Khadse and Fadnavis repeatedly dismissed this charge as “baseless”. To ensure this they posed for smiling pictures.
Fadnavis has often expressed his aversion to get into “dirty politics” which clearly gives “edge” to his in-house “rivals” always trying to unsettle his leadership. But so far what has worked to Fadnavis’ advantage is the trust reposed in him by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all India party president Amit Shah. Fadnavis has sent a signal within the organisation that he would walk the roadmap as laid down by Modi. He would pursue the politics of development.
The recurring flashes of anger and protests from senior most BJP minister for revenue Eknath Khadse is nolonger a secret. Having missed the Chief Ministerial post, Khadse never let go a single opportunity when it comes to asserting his political shrewdness in decision making in state assembly or organisation even if it means inviting a flak from the Centre. Whether it is a decision to put his foot down on appointment of his loyalist –Smita Wagh as MLC, or elevating himself to leader of state council, he had his ways.
The other two senior minister for education Vinod Tawde and finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar appear more cautious and calculating while displaying their political upmanship against Fadnavis.
Both Sena and BJP leaders spoken to admit, “In the coming days the problems are likely to multiply with the onset of local bodies elections leading to 2017 BMC polls.” While BJP intends to consolidate its gains to capture the richest corporation, Sena would like to reassert its hold on Mumbai. Yet, both are confident that government will continue as Congress and NCP would be busy setting their own house in order.
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