The BJP's decision to form the government in Maharashtra on the assurances made by NCP leader Ajit Pawar has turned out to be huge embarrassment for the party.
In a major set back to the BJP, a new political era is set to begin in Indian politics that will not only redefine the politics of the western state of Maharashtra but it will also redefine national politics. Uddhav Thackeray is all set to take the oath of the office of chief minister of Maharashtra with the support of NCP and Congress as the BJP suffered a major embarrassment following its decision to revoke the President’s rule and hurriedly install Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister with the support of NCP renegade Ajit Pawar. However, it turned out to be one of the biggest political miscalculations in recent history. It not only dented the image of the office of the governor of the state but the reputation of the office of Prime Minister and President was also hit as they were also involved in the unprecedented mid-night decision making process.
This is not an isolated case where the party and its strategist have grossly miscalculated the political situation on the ground. It began in 2014, soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections held in April-May that year. After forming the government at the Centre, the saffron party delayed the decision about the national capital Delhi which was already under President’s rule while the assembly was kept in suspended animation.
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Delhi Fiasco 2014-15
The BJP under Modi and Shah failed to capitalise on Kejriwal’s woes after he suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Varanasi Lok Sabha election in 2014. Kejriwal’s popularity was at its lowest in the immediate aftermath of the 2014 Lok Sabha election as he was considered a deserter by the people of Delhi who had resigned from the post of Delhi chief minister for his political ambitions at the national level.
However, the BJP’s feedback system at the state level was so poor at that time that it failed to send a correct report about the ground situation in Delhi to its top brass. As a result, the ruling NDA government at the Centre decided to keep the assembly in suspended animation and tried to form the government by splitting the Aam Aadmi Party.
It clearly showed the lack of confidence in the state BJP leadership which advised against calling for a fresh election despite the politically weak situation of Arvind Kejriwal. It gave the IRS Officer turned politician enough time to cover the lost ground.
And the intervention from the Supreme Court ensured that the BJP government at the Centre was no longer in the position to keep Delhi under continued President’s rule which was imposed in Delhi in February 2014 following Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to resign after he failed to table Jan Lok Pal bill in Delhi Vidhan Sabha. Following the Supreme Court’s intervention, Najib Jung, the then Lieutenant Governor of Delhi recommended for dissolution of Delhi assembly in November 2014 and fresh elections were called.
In Uttarakhand, the party misjudged the scope of judicial intervention that will follow its bid to topple the Harish Rawat led Congress government in the state in 2016. Though the BJP was able to ensure that 9 Congress MLAs withdrew their support from the Harish Rawat’s government turning the government into a minority. It also imposed the President’s rule in the state but the imposition of the President’s rule in the state under article 356 of the Indian Constitution was quashed by the Uttarakhand High Court.
Later the matter reached the Supreme Court which directed a floor test in the assembly but did not allow the rebel Congress MLAs, who were disqualified by the speaker, to participate in the division of votes. The situation turned to the advantage of Harish Rawat who was able to save his government and completed his term.
Unlike in the past, the BJP and Nitish Kumar led Janata Dal (United) enjoy a love-hate relationship in the state for the last more than six years. It started with Nitish Kumar’s decision to part ways with the BJP in 2013 when the saffron party nominated Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as head of its campaign committee. It showed the uneasy relationship between the two chief ministers – Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat. BJP and JD(U) fought the 2014 Lok Sabha elections separately where the party performed well due to an unprecedented wave in favour of BJP’s Prime Minister candidate Narendra Modi.
It prompted Nitish Kumar to take moral responsibility for the party’s poor showing in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. In May 2014, Nitish resigned as chief minister of Bihar and appointed Jitan Ram Manjhi in his place.
In 2015, Nitish Kumar entered into an alliance with its arch-rival Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress to take on the resurgent BJP in the state. However, the coalition government of JD(U), RJD and Congress lasted only 9 months and Nitish Kumar eventually came back to the NDA’s fold in November 2015.
However, the relationship between the two parties has never been smooth since the BJP refused to offer more than one ministerial berth to the JD(U) in Modi 2.0 government. In protest, Nitish Kumar decided that his party will not join the Modi 2.0 government and following the Maharashtra fiasco, there are fresh concerns over the fate of the BJP’s alliance with the JD(U) for the Bihar assembly elections that are due next year.