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Checkmate!

Monday, May 30, 2016
By Prashant Hamine

An interesting game of Political Chess is being played out in Maharashtra politics as of now with Political Parties and rivalries both inside the party and between parties and allies. The end result of it all is quite obvious. Be it the game between Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and estranged senior Minister for Revenue Eknath Khadse, or between MPCC president Ashok Chavan and Narayan Rane, or between Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over Legislative Council elections or between ruling estranged allies Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena over the ensuing 2017 BMC elections.

Everybody is busy Checkmating the other. It is not just the Puppets but even the Puppeteers are busy checkmating each other. And in politics a game of Chess is always on. The ultimate aim is to not just secure your own position but also ensure that your rivals both within and outside are put in a tight corner from where they cannot pose any challenge to you. Or better still take the help of the enemy of ones direct enemy to checkmate him. The week gone by has seen Khadse and Ashok Chavan being checkmated within their own parties. At the other end the re-advent of Rane senior is both a headache for the Sena as well as Chavan himself.

Seniority wise Khadse is a senior to Fadnavis, yet he was overlooked by the party bosses while picking Fadnavis as the Chief Minister. He sulked and even delayed his arrival at the swearing-in ceremony, just like Sena president Uddhav Thackeray did then in October 2014. Uddhav is still sulking and is finding it hard to reconcile to the fact that the Sena has lost its status of being the big brother. To make matters worse for him and much to the delight of the BJP, Rane makes a come back to the legislature and that too when the BMC elections are fast approaching.

The otherwise state BJP president Raosaheb Danve who too is at loggerheads with Fadnavis over controlling the leavers of power has closed ranks against Khadse. The timing of the series of allegations against Khadse coincides with the fact that there is an imminent shake-up in the cabinet both at the Center and in the State sometime in coming June. Even BJP president Amit Shah appears to have dropped Khadse as if he were some hot brick. In all this it is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which is garnering all the attention. This does not bode well for the Sena and the others as a resurgent AAP ahead of the BMC polls could prove problematic for all.

Unmindful of what the AAP might do in coming days, the Sena like the “Animal Farm” has drawn the animal into its fight with the BJP over the ensuing BMC elections. The fight for the richest civic body in Asia has been reduced to a poster war between the BJPs Lion and Senas Tiger and the Mumbaikar is reduced to being the hapless proverbial sacrificial Lamb caught between the two. But for now the BJP leadership has chosen to ignore the raving and rantings of the Sena as it knows now it will be preoccupied with Rane.

Although Chavan may have been checkmated for now, the re-entry of Rane senior is bound to alter his equations within the party. But one thing is clear, the Congress appears to have bought the NCPs proposal of allowing it to contest two legislative council seats and settling for just one Council seat. The 2014 fractured mandate in the Assembly elections is forcing everyone to let the biennial Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council elections be held unopposed. The game on the chess board is at such a stage where everyone is trying to checkmate the other in the hope that the other is relegated without getting into a direct confrontation. While the BJP and the NCP are having it their way, for the Sena and the Congress are facing a checkmate situation.

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