Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have yet again proved that they are grand masters of the political chess board. This time around, they changed game the game entirely. The BJP president and Union home minister went for a strategy that was the polar opposite of the one he deployed in Goa, Manipur and Karnataka. This time, the BJP waited patiently and preferred to bide their time before going for the kill.
Whether or not one was pleased with the outcome, the fact remains that the phenomenal speed and stealth with which the BJP brass and government machinery worked was remarkable. Imagine how many people must have been involved in the process to align the BJP and NCP, to move files between the governor's house in Mumbai, to the Ministry of Home Affairs, to the Prime Minister's Office, to the Rashtrapati Bhawan and the eventual issuance of a presidential proclamation on the revocation of President's Rule in the state. All of which was done in secret.
The notification revoking President's rule in Maharashtra pic.twitter.com/JSbAIOFUE6
— ANI (@ANI) 23 November 2019
Newspapers headlines had probably never got it so wrong, Marathi and national newspapers included. By the time people began to read the headlines about Uddhav Thackeray set to be the next chief minister, the headlines had changed on digital, social and broadcast media. It was Devendra Fadnavis who had become chief minister with NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar as his deputy.
President's Rule was lifted at around 5.45 am and in less than two hours, Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar took the oaths of office. Even as all this was going one, the Sena's Sanjay Raut remained clueless and basked in self-proclaimed glory. His tweet became the subject of sarcasm and ridicule.
— Sanjay Raut (@rautsanjay61) 23 November 2019
Raut, his bosses in the Shiv Sena, members of the Congress and NCP may cry foul over the developments, but they are to be blamed if they remained blind to the developments taking place in the open in Parliament House. On Wednesday, after Modi and Sharad Pawar's 40-minute-long one-on-one meeting in Parliament House, Firstpost pointed out why Maharashtra could be in for a political surprise, the formation of a Fadanavis-led BJP-NCP government. There were, the article noted, enough visible reasons for the Sena to worry.
But the likes of Sanjay Raut and Ahmed Patel lived in their own make-believe world. They failed to realise the importance of a seemingly innocuous action on the opening day of Parliament — removing Sena MPs from the treasury benches in both Houses of Parliament and assigning them seats in Opposition benches. Technically, this is done by the Chair of both Houses of Parliament but the role of the ruling BJP and parliamentary affairs minister is understandable.
When everything had fallen in place and the BJP returned to power in Maharashtra, Modi and Shah tweeted:
Congratulations to @Dev_Fadnavis Ji and @AjitPawarSpeaks Ji on taking oath as the CM and Deputy CM of Maharashtra respectively. I am confident they will work diligently for the bright future of Maharashtra.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 23 November 2019
मुझे विश्वास है कि यह सरकार महाराष्ट्र के विकास और कल्याण के प्रति निरंतर कटिबद्ध रहेगी और प्रदेश में प्रगति के नये मापदंड स्थापित करेगी।
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) 23 November 2019
This time around, Shah didn't make a single statement on government formation and the solitary interview he gave on the subject to ANI saw him counter Uddhav's 50:50 rotational chief minister pre-poll deal with the BJP. Shah was categorical that there never was such a deal.
Since then Shah had been silent. It appeared as if as if he had reconciled to the Sena-NCP-Congress alliance with Uddhav or Aaditya Thackeray taking over as Maharashtra chief minister and wait for a while for more long-terms gains in the state and outside, in terms of gains of grabbing the social constituency of the Shiv Sena and Congress.
He ensured that there was no overt activity on part of the BJP on government-formation. Since the time Fadnavis resigned and declined the governor's invitation to form a government, the expressing inability to muster majority mark the BJP appeared to have reconciled to making long-term gains, gaining on the slippage of the Sena and Congress social support base and forgoing short-term gains of installing its government in Maharashtra.
It is now clear that Shah this time didn't merely shift the goal posts, he changed the whole game and led his opponents down the garden path.
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Updated Date: Nov 23, 2019 13:28:58 IST