Who is the “ Real Chanakya”: Sharad Pawar or Amit Shah ?

Published : Dec 01, 2019 06:20 pm | By: M D Sridharan

Who is the “ Real Chanakya”: Sharad Pawar or Amit Shah ?

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The final result of the political drama that Maharashtra witnessed over four weeks has opened another debate: who is the real “Chanakya” of the Indian Politics – Sharad Pawar or Amit Shah?


Indeed the final result of the political drama that Maharashtra witnessed over four weeks after the results were out has opened another debate: who is the real “Chanakya” of the Indian Politics – Sharad Pawar or Amit Shah?

Has the wily Maharashtra politician with five decades of political experience who had seen and orchestrated many ups and downs in the Indian political scenario, outsmarted the “Shah” of BJP? When his nephew Ajit Pawar revolted and joined hands with BJP, Sharad Pawar simply threw a challenge to the BJP, that "Maharashtra is not Goa, Manipur or Arunachal Pradesh or Karnataka". And in the end he proved right.

 

Pawar was highly instrumental in stitching the Maha Vikas Aghadi — a diverse coalition of contrast with Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress to form the government. The MVA on record had a show of strength of 162 MLAs more than the hallway mark of 145 required in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly. The BJP is the largest party with 105 members while Shiv Sena and NCP have 56 and 54 MLAs, respectively. Congress secured 44 seats.
 

Uddhav Thackeray will be the Chief  Minister of the Maha Vikas Aghadi and the remaining details were being worked out through consultations.

The key figure holding the alliance together is NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, who was in constant touch with both Shiv Sena and the Congress to keep them on the same page besides ensuring there is no split within his own party. With the BJP having withdrawn, there will not be any problem for the MVA to prove its majority in the floor test.
 

But, it will not be an easy task for Uddhav to handle both NCP and Congress and ensure a stable government for 5 years. The fact remains that while the negotiations were taking place with Pawar at the helm, there were reports that many Sena MLAs were not keen on joining with the NCP and vice versa. It was open that right from the beginning, Ajit Pawar was not keen to ally with Sena and it was the main reason for him to breakaway in the middle. Even in Congress, while Sonia Gandhi was reluctant to extend Olive branch to Sena, but many Congress MLAs wanted to stay in power. So the question that always lingers in the minds of the people is that how long Uddav will be able to keep the dissenting voices under control?

The final act of making Uddhav Thackeray as CM of Maharashtra proved that Sharad Pawar, who first became chief minister at the age of 38 four decades ago, is still at the centre of Maharashtra politics with absolute control.

As soon as the results were declared and the Shiv Sena began its hard bargaining, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said, “The mandate for his party was to sit in the opposition. The BJP-Shiv Sena combine should take the lead and form the government”.
 

At that time the Maratha strong man clearly stated that he is not interested in forming the government. But, once BJP pulled out Ajit Pawar and Devendra Fadnavis also took charge, the senior Pawar changed his mind.  While, initially the BJP caught both Shiv Sena and NCP napping, the seasoned politician in Sharad Pawar woke up quickly and also acted swiftly and kept the BJP at bay. .

Ahead of the assembly elections, NCP was hit by several desertions with some key leaders walking out of NCP and many thought that it might mark the end of NCP, No doubt, Sharad Pawar has not only  brought his party out of a virtual existential crisis but will also remain as the driving force behind this coalition of contrast.

On the other hand, losing Maharashtra is a setback for BJP and especially to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

Many claim that Shah has been clearly outwitted by Pawar. The first thing is that the BJP not only failed to garner the majority which Amit Shah was very much confident of securing on their own but in the end had to rely on Shiv Sena to form the government. Further, the decision to ally with Ajit Pawar was considered not only  foolish and the way the whole episode was executed has really dented the overall image of Amit Shah as well as the BJP.

Clearly, Shah’s calculations that with a firm stand  he can subdue and probably decimate Shiv Sena has indeed backfired in Maharashtra. With the loss of Maharashtra, the BJP has been reduced to mere 40 per cent of the national landscape as compared to a whopping 71 per cent it commanded over in 2017.

Many claim that Shah has been clearly outwitted by Pawar. The first thing is that the BJP not only failed to garner the majority which Amit Shah was very much confident of securing on their own but in the end had to rely on Shiv Sena to form the government. Further, the decision to ally with Ajit Pawar was considered not only  foolish and the way the whole episode was executed has really dented the overall image of AMit Shah as well as the BJP.

 

Clearly, Shah’s calculations have misfired and failed to make an impact this time in Maharashrtra as the  Maratha strongman nullified by them.

From holding power in only seven state assemblies in 2014, The BJP simply exploded across India to a staggering 21 states by 2018. While the phenomenon called “ Modi wave” swept the nation,  Amit Shah’s political acumen and clever strategies were also instrumental for the stupendous victories of the BJP.

 

as hailed as “Chanakya” for his role.

But, currently after the resignation of  Devendra Fadnavis the BJP has been reduced to 17 states. The number may not seem very disheartening but geographically, the BJP has lost big states while winning smaller ones. Today the region ruled by the BJP, with or without allies, has fallen from 71 per cent in 2017 to 40 per cent.

Despite emerging as the single largest party, BJP government could not survive for more than 80 hours in Maharashtra. Finally losing out to Shiv Sena,  a trusted ally for over three decades,  as well as NCP is surely viewed as the biggest loss of face for the Modi-Shah duo.  Indeed, the Maharashtra blow has left the BJP leadership shell-shocked that too barely just six months after a stupendous victory in the general elections.

For Modi and Shah, the humiliating setback is bigger than the electoral defeats in New Delhi and in Bihar in 2015. Though Modi and Shah would never be questioned in the party for the loss, it has resulted in the loss of face for Modi and Shah and could have a deep impact in the upcoming Jharkhand and Delhi elections.

Having won in the people's court, BJP could not win over its pre-poll ally, the Shiv Sena. Also the fact remains that Amit Shah was the chief of the largest party of India, and was also very much instrumental in expanding the BJP to every corner of the country. On the other hand, despite his vast experience, Sharad Pawar is still stuck in Maharashtra.

It is true that the entire opposition is rejoicing that the Maharashtra drama implies that the BJP is no more invincible. The Maharashtra power tussle has paved the way for regrouping of the entire anti-BJP parties and may also project and accept Sharad Pawar as the main face to take on the BJP nationally. However, for the BJP, given their total dominance in the recent years, the upcoming assembly elections to Jharkahnd and Delhi hold the key.


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