Sunday Profile: At T-Junction

Stunned by the revolt of Chhagan Bhujbal along with 17 other MLAs, and ridiculed from within for turning his party into his party, Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray wrote a signed article in front on July 18, 1992 and announced that he was leaving the party. .

Two days later, on June 20, Shiva landed outside a Sagar Sena office of soldiers, urging Thackeray to reconsider. Veteran Shiv Sena leaders were harassed and beaten for not being loyal enough, and many of Thackeray’s potential opponents were downplayed. Thackeray then “unanimously” agreed to the soldiers ’request to reconsider his decision, this episode stamping his authority in the party forever.

Almost exactly 30 years later, the above incident is the best situation for son Uddhav Thackeray. However, on June 29, since he resigned as Chief Minister and MLC after a 15-minute steady speech, it was accompanied by an appeal for peace, which seemed unnecessary. With the exception of a few incidents of vandalism, the transfer of power from his army team to Eknath Shinde’s representative in Maharashtra was smooth, with soldiers more confused than angry at Uddhav for “throwing towels” without a fight.

Although Uddhav seemed determined to retain the detainee, he congratulated Shinde immediately after he was sworn in as CM. Even the rioter Sanjay Raut pleaded not to embarrass the soldiers when he appeared before the Enforcement Directorate.

But then again, a day later, Uddhav speaks of the BJP’s “betrayal” and flexes his muscles by “expelling” Shinde.

For the army ranks, this discomfort represents all the mistakes of the party. A decade after Bal Thackeray set foot in big shoes, Uddhav seems uncertain about where he wants to take the team. Should he stick to the new, ‘moderate’ mold that is seen as more appropriate to a lazy politician’s own personality? Or in the heat from the rebels, especially with the evidence of Uddhav’s Hindutva, should he return to the tactics of your mouth that have paid for the army over the years?

Numbers

If 39 out of 55 MLAs revolt, it will be difficult for any politician to fight. Uddhav must oppose him and the BJP is falling at his ankles. The rebels will have the support of the union and the money and muscle power to stay in government.

Many military observers suspect that Uddhav has a stomach, especially after seeing how the recent crisis has ended. Still in the early stages, Uddhav inevitably vacated his official residence, a demonstration of which; Then let a good farewell moment pass; Only hang as the number decreases; And finally exit without using the assembly floor.

“He should have presented his case on the floor of the house. He could express his views and explain why he chose the Congress and the NCP. Which would have been on the House record for successors. Instead, he chose Facebook Live, ”said leader Prithviraj Chavan, adding that his frustration was not hidden.

The loss of 39 MLAs to Shind will not be felt only in the Assembly. In the process, the army has lost its second tier of leadership across Maharashtra. Shinde himself was No. 2, right after the Thakurs. None of the six MLAs from North Maharashtra and five from the West are with Uddhav. The situation is similar in Vidarbha, where three of the four army legislators have gone with Shind. In Marathawara, 6 out of 12 MLAs and in Konkan, 12 out of 15 MLAs are now with Shinde.

The only place where Uddhav has garnered some support is Mumbai, where eight of the 15 MLAs are still with his party. The BMC election will be a first test of how strong that base is. The BJP is determined to seize the cash-rich company, and within hours of Shinde-Fardanbish taking the oath, the volley against the army-controlled corporation began. A former BJP corporator in charge of conducting BMC elections said: “Now is the time for change. This year, the BJP will also get control of the city. ”

Army track record in BMC elections under Uddhav does not inspire much confidence. In the 2002 elections, when he played a key role, when Bal Thackeray was in power, the army won 97 of the 227 seats. Since then it has gone down: 84 seats in 2007 and 75 seats in 2012 (Thackeray Sr. died that year), with the BJP as an ally. In 2017, when the army and the BJP fought separately, the army got 84.

The army has also fallen in the assembly elections. It came to power in 1995, winning 73 of the 288 seats. After Uddhav started playing an active role, it got 62 in 2004, 45 in 2009, 63 in 2014 and 56 in 2019. In 2014, the army, the BJP fought separately.

Partition series

This is the third division of the army since Uddhav took charge of the party in 2003. Many army rebels have noted that Uddhav hopes to be treated with the same respect even if he does not have a father, without raising any questions about his methods. Uddhav exacerbates his “locality” problem by working through a group with his family.

“People in his inner circle became gatekeepers and many old leaders were disappointed that they had to go through them to get to Uddhab. The lack of confidence has only increased, ”said Sanjay Patil of the University of Mumbai, who found the army between 1985 and 2022 for his doctoral work.

Parties say he not only relied on a select few, Uddhav was unable to observe what they were doing. NCP chief Sharad Pawar did not say anything secretly about being unaware of the army mutiny.

After handing over power on Thursday, Power told reporters: “Uddhav Thackeray’s style of work is such that if he trusts anyone, he gives him complete autonomy. We saw it with Eknath Shinde. I don’t know what happened behind it. “

Even in the days following the mutiny, Uddhav seemed to stop talking to others, especially Raut and son Aditya. Many army leaders feel that the two’s aggressive stance has pushed the rebels away.

For now, Uddhav has the support of the Congress and the NCP. But it will be tested when the three parties fight the election with their separate agendas. Even Power has kept its promise to vote.

New Uddhab, or old family man?

Almost everyone agrees that Uddhav needs to be rearranged. “He will have to face the uncomfortable reality that his hold on the second and third tier leadership of the army has been removed. He is doing some hard thinking to reach out to the army cadre, which still has a significant presence on the ground, ”said a Congress MLA.

Whatever he does, Uddhav’s wife Rashmi, Aditya and the NCP chief may feel more dependent on the advice of the chief power. Like Balasaheb, who started including his family in the party after the Bhujbal uprising in 1992, Uddhav can draw a stronger family circle around him.

Aditya’s growing influence, another cause of burning for the rebels, is already more visible. The Youth Army, which he has led for 12 years since its formation, is leading rallies to garner support across the state. The members of the main committee, who are mostly Mumbai-based, have been directed to focus on their districts.

Samajwadi Party MLA Rais Sheikh said that for all Aditya’s encouragement, he represents a new face of the army against which the rebels have revolted. “With Aditya, you can talk about beautiful things like what’s happening in Davos. But if you tell him that there is rubbish around a rice… he is uncomfortable. I talked to him where I told him that these issues would not get a vote. He told me that someone just has to think outside the box. I told him that this is not the time. But then he started ignoring you and stopped talking to you, ”Sheikh said.

Rashmi is also seen as the key to Uddhav’s political career, playing a key role in pressuring him to take over as chief minister. And, more importantly, the difficult decision to sever ties with the BJP.

On the night of 22nd June, when Uddhav traveled a short distance from his official residence Barsha to his private home Matoshri, it was the dynasty at the forefront. Uddhav, Rashmi and their two sons, greeted and cheered by supporters, repeatedly appeared from their cars to acknowledge support.

That evening was seen to be a new day for Uddhav. But the clock is ticking.

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