Maharashtra politics has never had it so bad. The last odd decade has been a terrible time for the State. It all began with the untimely death of Pramod Mahajan in 2006. Mahajan was the successor to the Vajpayee-Advani era and after LK Advani’s Jinnah fiasco; would probably have been the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate in 2009.
But that was not to be and the master organizer and brains behind the saffron party was tragically killed by his own brother. He was a just 56.
In 2008, 26/11 took place and Mumbai was shocked. The Home Minister of India happened to be another Marathi in the form of Shivraj Patil. Patil was seen as a bad manager of the whole affair and was more in the news for changing clothes during the tragedy.
He quit immediately and was effectively retired from politics. He was kicked upstairs as Governor of Punjab.
2012 was a bad year for both the Shiv Sena and the Congress. First Vilasrao Deshmukh died. He was a former Chief Minister and Minister of Science and Technology at that time. After that patriarch Balasaheb Thackeray, someone who had dominated Maharashtra politics for decades, passed away.
Around that time Nitin Gadkari was doing pretty well as BJP President and would probably have had a term extension. But that was not to be. The Purti scandal got him a tremendous amount of bad press and he was forced to step down.
The 2014 general elections ended many careers all over India. One such person is probably Sushilkumar Shinde. Shinde lost the 2002 Vice-Presidential polls, but was rehabilitated as Maharashtra CM in 2003.
Then he was retired as Governor in 2004, but pulled out of retirement to become India’s Power Minister. The 2012 record power blackout saw him being promoted as Home Minister, a post he was known more for his misses.
It is quite difficult to see how he will ever make a comeback.
Tragedy continued to stalk Maharashtra politics as Gopinath Munde died in a car crash immediately after taking over as Minister of Rural Development.
Sharad Pawar, who dominated State politics and who once also almost made Prime Minister will turn 74 this year and is also out of active politics.
Maharashtra politics has never had it so bad and there is a power vacuum.
It is but natural that all the political parties will want to fill on this vacuum and make a new foundation among all these ruins. That is why from the very beginning all the four major parties—BJP, Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP—wanted to go it alone for the 2014 Assembly elections.
However not all the parties are poised to come good under these circumstances. The Congress is in no fighting shape. It has got a beating in the Lok Sabha polls and may not fare better in the Assembly polls. Prithviraj Chauhan was seen as Mr Clean when he took over, but like Manmohan Singh, he has also lost grace. He and Ashok Chavan are not vote catchers.
As far as the NCP is concerned, both Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule have proved to be full of pygmies. Ajit is known more for his arrogant statements and threats and what he doesn’t realize is that off late the Indian electorate has been in a very punishing mood.
Raj Thackeray also has not delivered the goods drawing a blank in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. He is nothing without an alliance with either the Shiv Sena or the BJP.
As far as the Shiv Sena is concerned, they should realize that the 2009 verdict was a big slap on their face. The Sena contested many more seats than the BJP and yet got lesser seats than the latter and was placed a lowly fourth in the Assembly. That was when the late Balasaheb was alive. Uddhav is not a patch of his father and will not be able to fare much better.
Uddhav’s decision to break away from the BJP may prove to be disastrous for the Sena.
The BJP is the only fighting fit party in the State. Gadkari has made a comeback and is a Central minister. He can lay claim to be the tallest leader of Maharashtra today. Amit Shah is the best election planner in India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the biggest vote catcher.
This triumvirate can now build the foundations in the State for the BJP to come to power on its own.
Maharashtra is the only large State in India which has been ruled by the Congress for more than a whopping 60 years of 67-years of Independent India.
The NDA ruled from 1995-99 and Pawar was CM in a breakaway party from 1978-80 (so the Congress was very much in the picture at that time). That means the Congress has been out of the picture in only 4 years since Independence.
The BJP can change that for good.
There is a huge chunk of voters that is both anti-Congress and anti-Sena. The BJP was missing that particular votebank. The upcoming polls will tell the nation how big that bank is.More from the author:
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.