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4-min read

'50-50' Formula Between BJP-Sena Would Never Work, It's All About Controlling Money: Shobhaa De

Both the BJP and the Shiv Sena, alliance partners in Maharashtra, have been playing hardball with each other over the chief minister's chair and government formation in the state.


Updated:October 31, 2019, 8:02 PM IST
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'50-50' Formula Between BJP-Sena Would Never Work, It's All About Controlling Money: Shobhaa De
File image of Shobhaa De. (Image: PTI)

New Delhi: What does one make of this 'natak' (drama) unfolding in Maharashtra? A few people know of the political theatre than the one and only Shobhaa De. CNN-News18's Bhupendra Chaubey spoke to the author and social commentator for her thoughts on the political situation in the state, a week after allies Shiv Sena and BJP posted comfortable numbers in the Maharashtra Assembly elections. However, the process of government formation has been in limbo, with Sena, the smaller brother, eyeing a bigger slice of the pie and the chief minister's chair for Thackeray scion Aaditya.

Edited excerpts:

In Hindi, there is a word called ‘noora kushti’ (fixed fight, or). Is this just political ‘noora kushti’ we are seeing unfold right now?

I don’t think so. Most of it is an eyewash. We are looking at the wrong people for answers. The only people who hold the key and are very instrumental in creating some of this situation is a gentleman who is with the Shiv Sena, a strategic thinker, Prashant Kishore. A lot of what you see today, like the rise and positioning of Aaditya Thackeray, the seat that was chosen for him and the decision to fight an election, the first Thackeray to do so… it was a part of Prashant's strategy. It has paid off.

Let’s look at numbers. The Sena claims the numbers are such that it is mandated to stake claim for the post of the chief minister. Do you think it’s possible?

It started as a build-up before the elections. They wanted us to believe it -- Aaditya will be chief minister; if not chief minister, then the deputy chief minister. The build-up was there to put such a thought. That’s psychological strategy at its best. People did not outright laugh and scoff, they said it is okay, maybe there is something to this young man. He has no experience other than being a third-generation politician. He has no proven track record. He’s changing his stance now, he is a clever boy, by saying there is no violence, this is a new Sena. The entire Sena branding has been built on Balasaheb’s philosophy and violence was a part of it. They may call it something else now, like dharma, social good.

Uddhav Thackeray in the course of addressing his party workers today asks why are we in a hurry to form the government. He says I am very clear that a Shiv Sainik must be installed as the chief minister… his word comes a day after Devendra Fadnavis has already anointed himself as chief minister for the next five years. Do you really think the chief minister’s chair can be split in two parts?

I don’t think the 50-50 formula was ever meant to work or can work. No one shares power or money. It is all about controlling money.

Is this Uddhav Thackeray's figment of imagination that there was some 50-50 formula?

He claims it was a verbal agreement. He should have signed a pre-nup. Fadnavis says he had nothing in writing. This was something that was floated. Why would Fadnavis make an offer to share power and equally with a party which, at that time, no one even expects such numbers.

I am hearing buzz in Delhi -- that to keep the BJP out of power in Maharashtra, there is a possibility of Sharad Pawar and the Congress coming together and putting Aaditya Thackeray as chief minister. Do you buy that?

As long as it means money for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, and it is all about land deals and real estate, anything is possible. There is no such thing as morality or ideology.

So this is not an impossible scenario?

Not at all, I would not be surprised. They are all part of the same gang. They are all real estate brokers. Which better city and state to strip off its assets than this gang together? They have been doing it for years.

So it is entirely possible that Fadnavis gets hold of a large chunk of MLAs or the Congress-NCP-Sena comes together and works out a formula?

Yes. The money power that Sharad Pawar has, he can buy anybody and anything. If that is what they would like to achieve, then it is not an unthinkable scenario. Everything is possible. It is about getting higher numbers, money wise. No ideology, nothing. And it about the control of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the richest municipal corporation on earth.

Finally, we all have seen this drama play out between the Sena and the BJP on multiple levels. Between Modi, Shah, Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray, do you still believe the Sena can exercise that remote control they have always proclaimed to have?

Sensibly, they have stopped talking about the remote control. No one believes they had one after Balasaheb. The remote control question makes them sounds ridiculous. There is only one remote control in India right now and his name is Amit Shah. That’s it.

That remote control hasn’t entered the political field of Maharashtra?

It may. Matoshree has extended an invitation to have tea only with him and nobody else. That says it all.

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