Eknath Shinde has been made chief minister to crush the Shiv Sena totally, completely, wholly, point out Sunil Gatade and Venkatesh Kesari.
Despite several odds, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj always emerged on top of the situation, whatever might be the challenge.
This was because the great Maratha warrior knew his men in and out, their strengths as well as weaknesses.
Another was that he knew well what his mighty adversaries were thinking and could plan beforehand the counter strategy.
In his mind, he could win a battle much before it was fought.
He also knew how to perform the vanishing trick when the enemy was overwhelming.
In retrospect, the problem with Uddhav Thackeray appeared to be that he believed too much in his men.
Besides, he was found wanting in understanding his political adversaries, his friends turned foes.
He failed to detect how they would strike and what armour they would carry at a time when institutions of the State appear subservient to the powers that be.
With his bowing out as Maharashtra chief minister, Thackeray has faced the biggest ever setback to the Shiv Sena from the aggressive Bharatiya Janata Party under Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
At the same time, Uddhav is too cool a personality to appear perturbed. He must clearly be perturbed, but his forte is that he does not show on his face what is going on his mind.
The man who has learnt his politics from his father Balasaheb Thackeray has some unique qualities of head and heart.
The outpour of emotions over the way he resigned as chief minister speaks volumes.
Uddhav knows that the path ahead is very very difficult, but not insurmountable.
Modi and Shah will use every trick in the trade to make the Sena a political relic of the past.
There have been allegations that the Enforcement Directorate was used to effect a division in the Shiv Sena legislature party.
Hours after the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government was sworn in, Sena MP Sanjay Raut was questioned by the ED for 10 hours.
Uddhav knows that with Shinde-Fadnavis firmly in the saddle, the very existence of the Sena will be brought under threat in whichever way possible.
In politics, there are no permanent enemies or friends, only permanent interests.
Shinde has been made chief minister to crush the Sena totally, completely, wholly.
But the question is whether the Shinde-Fadnavis government will be able to perform
This is because a sizable section of the state BJP is shell shocked over the way the party high command virtually forced a reluctant Fadnavis to accept the post of deputy chief minister.
Fadnavis’s ‘demotion’ is bound to be an issue in Maharashtra sooner or later, if not within the BJP, then for the Opposition parties.
As one political analyst pointed out, the high commands of the BJP or Congress have always ensured that a leader from Maharashtra does not get importance at the national level in spite of his competence.
Y B Chavan and Sharad Pawar got a raw deal from Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi and now this ‘demotion’ of Fadnavis by the BJP duo.
What is involved is the honour of Maharashtra goes the rationale in political circles.
The BJP high command’s move to prop up a Sena rebel to finish the Sena politically has sent alarm bells in Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party as also the Congress.
The signal is that after Thackeray and the Shiv Sena is dealt with, then the next target will be the NCP.
The Congress is not seen as a big threat by the BJP in Maharashtra as it became a pale shadow of itself way back in 2014 willing just 40 odd seats in the 288-member state assembly.
For the astute political observer, Shinde, despite being from the dominant Maratha community, is but a pawn and he has been used to good effect to create doubts in the minds of Shiv Sainiks.
Soon, BJP spin doctors will be feverishly at work to project how Shinde is the real Shiv Sainik, a former autorickhawwallah who has risen to become chief minister of the state.
People love rags to riches stories in politics. It is not for nothing that Modi never forgets to remind people about his humble origins as a chaiwallah.
Uddhav does not have his late father’s charisma, but knows well that Shiv Sainiks in large measure are with him.
The public sympathy towards him in the wake of his resignation should be seen to be believed.
Uddhav has earned a lot of goodwill over the way he conducted himself in his last days as CM.
How things would take shape depends on how Shinde tries to wean Shiv Sainiks away in the next few months. Time is of the essence.
The elections to several municipal corporations including Mumbai, Thane and Pune are round the corner.
Uddhav has been cornered in all respects and the way he tries to extricate himself would decide the shape of things to come.
The civic polls will also test the unity in the resurgent BJP which is stunned by the way its leader Fadnavis has been treated by the high command.
If Shinde, who has declared he is an original Shiv Sainik, uses the Marathi manoos — the son of the soil plank — then there are possibilities that the BJP which champions hardline Hindutva would not like it.
Politics in Maharashtra is literally at the crossroads. The churn has begun.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com
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