A new beginning in Maharashtra

Democracy has triumphed in Maharashtra. The political developments in the state after the assembly elections will go a long way in consolidating the democratic foundations enshrined in our Constitution.

At a time when the space for opposition politics in the country has been shrinking, parties of differing ideologies showed the maturity to join hands to defeat the devious designs of the ruling BJP, that tried to break a regional party to get a backdoor entry to the corridors of power in Maharashtra.

Perhaps the Maharashtra BJP managers did not have an inkling that the bond of emotions which ties the Pawar family under the guidance of Sharad Pawar is too strong to be broken by any dirty trick.

Sharad Pawar, the doyen of Indian politics, yet again showed why he is respected across the political spectrum. The maturity and calm with which he handled the crisis, that at one stage appeared to even put a question mark on his credibility, is a story that should put to rest the debate on who is the real modern-day Chanakya.

From the awe-inspiring image of an old warrior braving the rains to the cool, calm and composed strategist who became the fulcrum of opposition unity in the state – Sharad Pawar has been the one big winner of this Maharashtra assembly election.

Mr. Fadnavis and the BJP have been left badly bruised in these elections. And, they have no one but themselves to blame for this disastrous show. They tried every possible trick to checkmate the opposition. But they failed.

Let’s demolish, one by one, the multitude of myths around which they weaved their narrative to mislead the people of Maharashtra.

Mr. Fadnavis says the Maharashtra mandate was for the Mahayuti, and within the Mahayuti it was for the BJP and not the Shiv Sena. Cornered by the results on October 24, he has used the term ‘strike rate’ to defend his electoral performance. What Mr. Fadnavis does not say is that under his leadership the number of seats which the BJP won and the number of votes that the party got has both reduced.

His assumed claim that if the BJP had contested more seats it could have won more holds equally true for the Shiv Sena, which contested a lesser number of seats.

Next, the BJP talks of “mandate being stolen”. Now, this is something which the BJP should not even dare to mention. Has the ruling party forgotten what it did in Goa, what it did in Bihar? The BJP has used money and muscle power to steal mandates in several states – in its bid to turn the country saffron. The political pundits had declared Maharashtra results even before the elections were announced. It was supposed to be a no-contest with the BJP predicted to sweep the state. But what the pundits did not factor was the presence of the Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar, who knows state politics like the back of his hand. If any party in Maharashtra can claim to have a positive mandate it is the NCP which not only increased its seats but also added to the number of votes that the party had polled in 2014 assembly elections.

Another myth being propagated by the BJP is the ‘unholy alliance’ of differing ideologies coming together for power. Mr. Fadnavis called it ‘Khichdi alliance’. Ironically, this charge comes from a party that did not blink even once before deciding to join hands with the PDP in erstwhile J&K. Was that a ‘holy alliance’? Leave Kashmir. Why did Mr. Fadnavis and the BJP plot overnight to break the NCP and take its help to cling to power despite contesting against the party? If the BJP aligns with the NCP, it is good. But if the NCP decides to partner with the Shiv Sena on equal terms for the development of Maharashtra it becomes ‘unholy’. The truth is that today the Maharashtra BJP, in its greed for power, has become a bundle of lies and contradictions.

Some in the BJP call the NCP-Congress-Shiv Sena coalition a politics of opportunism. They are wrong. No, this is not politics of opportunism, it is politics of compulsion taken in the interest of the people of Maharashtra.

The fact that NCP, Congress and the Shiv Sena have taken nearly a month to reach consensus on the principles for governance shows how careful all the three parties have been in charting a common path in the interest of Maharashtra. They could have joined hands in a rush if they were greedy for power and only wanted to stop the BJP from returning to power. But they knew that differing ideologies needed a strong will to tide over the accompanying contradictions and hence every point of contention was sorted before the decision to claim power was announced. Isn’t this the kind of mature politics that a country as diverse as India needs?

We have resolved to usher Maharashtra into a new era of development. The NCP along with the Congress and the Shiv Sena will ensure that the politics of development takes precedence in the state. The road map to the future is very clear in the minds of our leaders and the resolve to implement it very strongly.

This Maharashtra assembly is packed with the power of the youth. The young leaders of Maharashtra who are full of positive energy and have a dream and a vision for their state. Maharashtra is a jewel in India’s crown and the young leaders of new Maharashtra are willing to break the old barriers and chart a new course. They are not intimidated by history. Their vision for the future is not blurred by the happenings of the past. This new government will set the standards of governance so high that its leaders will be counted as role models by future generations.

Let us all together pledge to work for a new Maharashtra.

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