All this was expected, waiting to
happen, and as the time was running out, today was the day, when it had to
happen, as the last day of filing nominations for the October 15 Maharashtra
assembly election is just on the day after tomorrow, on September 27, a day when
prime minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address the United Nations General
Assembly during his much talked about official America trip.
The four major political parties of
Maharashtra, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Shiv Sena and Bhartiya
Janata Party, are going to contest the upcoming assembly polls separately (as
We had two pressers today, by the BJP
and the NCP, announcing the split. Representatives of both the parties said
they tried hard to save the alliance. Likewise was the reaction from their
'till the last moment' alliance partners.
The Mahayuti is no longer existent (as
of now). The Congress-NCP Combine had its life till today.
Anyway, there is nothing much to read
into that. After Congress' humiliating loss and miserable strength in the Lok
Sabha elections and the BJP's stupendous (and unexpectedly overwhelming) show,
it was written all over.
Sharad Pawar had issued warning to its
senior partner immediately after the May 16 General Elections results that
Congress needed to accept the reality and had to give more space to the NCP now.
Though the BJP did not issue such
explicit warnings, the messages and the feelers were always sent out. Congress'
two Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra were half of the NCP's four while the BJP
was five seats ahead of Shiv Sena's 18 MPs. Also, nationally, the party had won
majority on its own.
It was also that there were emphatic
voices in all the camps against breaking the alliances. The issue being dragged
for so long tells us. While writing this, Congress is on with its presser being
addressed by the Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan while Shiv Sena
is expected to come with its formal response tomorrow.
There are already talks of further
alliances and deals. Political theories and hypotheses are going to be the high
talking points. But that will be tomorrow onwards (including the possibilities
of reversals, if any!).
There were many who, in all the four
political outfits, were thinking to test the waters separately after long
periods of alliances. NCP-Congress alliance was 15 years old while Shiv
Sena-BJP combine has had history of a quarter of Century with it.
Fighting polls together for so many
years kept them away from assessing their power and their influence separately on
their constituencies across the state. It was hard to say who wielded what
influence across the state. It had become difficult for them to assess their
situation in terms of real political growth; in terms of gaining and expanding
the political ground.
Traditionally, as Congress and Shiv Sena
were the senior partners of their respective alliances and had larger presence
and a long history in the state, the assessment was not so imperative for them.
But it could never have been so with the NCP and the BJP.
Though, the NCP was formed from the
breakaway faction of Maharashtra Congress by Sharad Pawar, a major political
figure in the state, its beginning was not smooth and the party was forced to
join hands with Congress in the very first year, when the Combine had its first
government in 1999. The Shiv Sena-BJP
Combine has failed to form the government after 1995.
The status quo was maintainable as long
as the status remained more or less unchanged - circumstances predicting
continuation of the Congress-NCP government.
That was not so this time. Every survey
predicted overwhelming victory for the Shiv Sena-BJP combine quoting the Modi
Wave being the major factor after BJP emerging with more seats and an impressive
performance in the state. The natural corollary to it was the doomed fate for Congress,
an electoral rout, like it had in the Lok Sabha elections. So, the senior
partners were no longer in the positions to claim their political seniority in
And these equations gave the BJP and the
NCP the leveraging power to bargain to have more seats to contest in the elections
as well as the aspirations to go solo to assess and realize their own political
As the bargaining could not come with
the results expected, the voices advocating the 'going solo' mantra grew more
and more demanding, and it ultimately got the upper hand today when the BJP and
the NCP, one after the other, announced to walk out of their respective
So, it's an open political sky and a free
electoral battleground in Maharashtra tomorrow onwards. And it has the
potential of throwing in some U-turns.
It's going to be interesting, for the
Pundits, and for the observers.