Devendra Fadnavis: Amit Shah of Maharashtra 

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(MS Shanker)

The Shiv Sena-led MVA government in Maharashtra is teetering and is on the brink of collapse, crumbling under the weight of its own acts of omission and commission. It was farcical for a party with 55 seats in the assembly hijacking the electoral mandate and foisting its chief minister on the state, while its former senior alliance partner sat in the opposition though it had won 106 seats!

Over the last few months the BJP stalwart from the state, Devendra Fadnavis, has emerged as a master strategist—the Amit Shah of Maharashtra. First, he rocked the state assembly with a barrage of pen drives whose contents rattled the top guns of MVA leadership.

Then came the Rajya Sabha elections in which Fadnavis sensed the opportunity of BJP wresting an extra seat. The party fielded three candidates instead of two sure winners and all three romped home, much to the dismay and discomfiture of Uddhav Thackeray and his new-found political partners. Then came the BJP’s resounding success in the Legislative Council polls, masterminded by Fadnavis, followed up by this master stroke in tandem with Eknath Shinde.

Press reports claim that as many as around 46 MLAs are with Shinde in Guwahati at the moment, jeopardising the future of the Uddhav Thackeray led state government in Maharashtra. No wonder Uddhav is reported to have offered the CM‘s chair to Shinde if he returned to the Sena fold—a proposal backed by his alliance partners in their desperation to save the sinking MVA ship. To rub salt into their wounds, Shinde is reported to have rebuffed the offer.

Regardless of how the entire drama unfolds, one thing is clear. At the popular level, the MVA coalition evokes widespread resentment and as many say the payback is purely Karmic. People cite the instances of the killings of sadhus in Palghar, the demolition of a portion of a building owned by actress Kangana Ranaut, the relentless harassment of Republic Media’s Editor, Arnab Goswami, and the arrest of Marathi actress Ketaki Chitale, who was in custody for 40 days, apart from numerous misdeeds led by former Commissioner of Mumbai Police, Parambir Singh and notorious cop Sachin Vaze—all of which have been widely reported by the media.

Most recently, in a ridiculous turn of events, the Uddhav government arrested MP Navneet Rana and her husband for their plan to recite the Hanuman Chalisa in front of the Chief Minister’s house! To compound his woes, two of Uddhav’s cabinet colleagues, Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik, find themselves facing serious charges slapped by the Enforcement Directorate on them.

Sanjay Raut is reported to have said that the dissolution of the state assembly seems imminent. On the other hand, some press reports suggest that Eknath Shinde and legislators backing him would all resign from the assembly lock, stock and barrel forcing by-elections in their constituencies.

What is very clear is that Uddhav Thackeray has run out of options. And no tears are being shred for him because the mess in Maharashtra and two and a half years of misrule have to be squarely attributed to him. Everybody but Uddhav, seemed to be calling the shots. Mercifully, the end appears to be in sight and hopefully we will soon see the dignity of popular mandate in Maharashtra restored with Devendra Fadnavis earning his rightful position as chief minister of the state.