The Shiv Sena abstained from voting on the no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha moved by the Opposition against the Narendra Modi government on Friday.
The Sena's decision finally put to rest a week of speculations regarding where the party, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre and in Maharashtra, stands on the issue of continuing its support to the NDA.
Just a day earlier, Sena's chief whip in Lok Sabha, Chandrakant Khaire, issued a whip to MPs asking them to be present in the House when the motion was discussed, and to support the government.
Hours after issuing the whip, however, the Sena shifted its stance and said party chief Uddhav Thackeray had asked his party MPs to remain in Delhi and a final decision on supporting the Modi government would be taken on the morning before the debate. "Sena MPs have been asked to remain absent by Uddhavji during the voting on the no-confidence motion," a close aide of the Sena chief told PTI.
In yet another twist, however, the Sena published an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana on Friday morning, in which it seemed to suggest that the BJP has manipulated its way to electoral victories. The party also raised what it termed a three-point secret of the BJP's success: Money power, muscle power and EVM manipulation.
"The BJP has the numbers. The motion is not for bringing down the government. It is to whip the government publicly over its sins. In fact, there are question marks over the way this government has won the majority. The party in question shouldn't sing songs of majority. Immense money power, muscle power and manipulation of EVMs is the three-point secret of their success. What exists in the country today is fake democracy," the Sena's editorial read, as reported by News18.
It went on to say the BJP has backstabbed people and deceived them. "The BJP has backstabbed people. Speaking the truth has become sedition, but backstabbing people, deceiving them has become a protocol," it read.
If all of this read like ties between the allies have soured beyond the point of redemption, things turned around as the Parliament session got underway. The Sena, in a quick reversal of the earlier stated objective, decided to abstain from voting. Sena MPs boycotted the Parliament proceedings on Friday, didn't even sign the attendance ledger.
A history of uncertainty
It's far from being the first time the Sena and the BJP have differed over an issue and decided to call things off. Earlier this year, on 23 January, Shiv Sena parted ways with the BJP and decided to go solo for upcoming elections.
However, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had still expressed confidence that the government would last a full term. "The Sena had said a similar thing in the past. But I am confident the BJP-Sena alliance government will complete its full five-year term in office," Fadnavis had said.
The two have also bickered openly and hurled barbs at each other over a number of issues.
From severely criticising demonetisation to releasing a 56-page booklet titled Ghotalebaaz BJP (Scamster BJP), that listed all the "scams" that allegedly took place under the Fadnavis government in Maharashtra, Sena has been stepping up its attacks against its alliance partner BJP.
The recent among all these rebukes is Sena's disapproval and bitter opposition to proposed Rs 1.45 lakh crore oil refinery in coastal Maharashtra. Shiv Sena on Thursday said that the project won't be allowed to be "thrust" on the locals there.
With Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly elections both scheduled for 2019, the Sena appears to be using these tactics to show its alliance partners that it holds all the cards and will emerge as the big brother in the state.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 20, 2018 13:55 PM