MAHA TRY … Sena looks at option of forming govt with support from NCP, Cong; CM post a hurdle

MUMBAI: The BJP is watching the scenario with considerable curiosity, and with its fingers crossed, as its ally the Shiv Sena is trying an alternative formula of forming a ministry in the state with support from both the NCP of Sharad Pawar and the Congress party. Together, the three will have a comfortable majority in the 288-member state assembly. 

However, both the Congress and the NCP are not warming up to the idea of the Shiv Sena leading such a government with its own chief minister designate, Aaditya Thackeray, son of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. At the same time, back channel discussions are on to rob the BJP, the single largest party with over 100 seas in the new assembly, a chance to continue in power through formation of a new ministry.

Aaditya Thackeray with father Uddhav

The Shiv Sena has 56 members, the NCP 54 and the Congress 44.  The BJP has 105 members. A Karnataka-like scenario, where BJP was kept out of power for a period after the 2018 assembly polls there by a hastily cobbled post-poll alliance of the Congress and the JDU, is sought to be repeated.  A CM post, and that too for someone from the Thackeray family, is the central ambition of the Shiv Sena top brass.

There is no clarity about the game plan of the BJP. Home Minister Amit Shah, who directly handles the Maharashtra BJP affairs in the post-poll phase, was busy with the Kashmir scenario in the past few days, ensuring that no trouble arose in the context of the new arrangement of Jammu and Kashmir being turned into a Union Territory, effective from October 31. There were speculations of a break-up of the Shiv Sena, but such talks have died down for now. Once Amit Shah gets back to the Maha table, by Friday, there is likelihood of clarity on the party’s future course of action in the state. 

Both the BJP leadership and the Sena, Congress and NCP leaderships are in touch with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. 

Aaditya Thackeray is Yuva Sena chief and a Law graduate. Aaditya Thackeray has out-of-the-box ideas, unlike the run-of-the-mill politicians. Some time ago, he proposed revival of the active night life in Mumbai, where dancing bars were banned as part of  an open moral crusade by some politicians with links to the underworld. Aaditya promised a scenario of opening of malls and restaurants all-night, a la the practice in big cities like Singapore, which never sleeps. 

Mumbai, once a paradise for fun seekers, is today a chaotic mess. It lost much of its charm in recent decades, thanks partly to the rowdyism, muscle-flexing and old-mindset of the Shiv Sena leadership and the growth of Goa in its neighbourhood as a major international tourism spot with heavy accent on night life. In the 1970s and 1980s, even prostitution had some veiled kind of official sanction and policemen guarded the red-light district all night. This was seen as a safety valve to check rise in crime rates. As a leader, Uddhav Thackeray, who inherited the legacy of Sena founder Bal Thackeray, was below par. He ran the show with a band of muscle-flexers.

Today, prostitution in Mumbai has a larger stranglehold of the underworld, with huge bribes going to people’s representatives and other politicians. While cops and politicians make much money, poor women who sell their body for a living get just the leftovers of the collections. IHN-NN


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