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The July Quake

Monday, June 19, 2017
By Prashant Hamine

Senior Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, has yet again assured us of a major political earthquake in July, should the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government cause any further delay in deciding on the farmers loan waiver. First in a bid to embarrass the BJP, Raut mooted the name of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat for the 15thPresident of India. When that did not evoke any response he and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray invoked the name of the nonagenarian noted Agro scientist Dr M S Swaminathan for the top job.

When it comes to the Presidential elections, the Sena line of argument has become all the more predictable and least surprising. In 2012 elections it openly supported the now out-going President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, of the then Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Again in 2007, the Sena then playing the daughter of Maharashtra card supported the candidature of Pratibhatai Devisingh Patil, another Congress led UPA candidate. These were more pronounced as the Sena despite being in the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had supported the Congress led UPA candidate.

This time too it hopes to do an encore, but the poll arithmetic has somewhat queered the pitch. It is with little or without any rhyme or reason that the Sena has been constantly snipping at the heels of the BJP. In the numbers game, key states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Odisha to name a few, hold the key to success for both the UPA and the NDA. This time at the national level, in the numbers game the NDA appears to have a slight numerical edge over the UPA.

That is why regional satraps, allies and potential allies have all become very important. And that is the reason why BJP national president Amit Shah in the name of courtesy visits to NDA allies like Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and potential allies like Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray did meet them, just to keep them in good humour till the Presidential elections were over.

The reason being, that with 288 MLAs, 48 Lok Sabha and 19 Rajya Sabha MPs, Maharashtra is termed as the swing state. Individually, the BJP with 21,948 votes in its kitty is not entirely out of the woods as it seems to be. The Sena has 14,868 votes, the Congress led UPA has just 10,620 votes. But add the Sena votes and the UPA votes to a kitty, at least in Maharashtra and that swells up to 25,488 votes which is slightly higher than the BJP has on its own.

And that is why the Sena, Thackeray and Raut have been talking of a political earthquake come July. Sena and Thackeray have been constantly wagging their fingers arguing that the Sena ministers carried their resignation letters in their pockets. To counter that narrative and keep everyone on the edge, the BJP has floated this trial balloon of an impending Mid-Term elections.

Already the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court has summoned Raut in connection with the Sena’s role in the Babri demolition case, which is another subtle way of arm twisting. Even the BJP top brass is well aware of the Sena likelihood of walking out of the NDA, it is only a matter of time. But for some it is too hard for the Sena to resist perks of being in power. So will the Sena cause a political earthquake in July is the big question.

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