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In three months, Maharashtra’s MVA government overcomes political challenges, gets ready to tackle finances

Unexpected alliance: Workers of the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress jointly celebrating the formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi government in November.   | Photo Credit: S Sudarshan

With the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra completing three months in office, the initially uncanny looking alliance of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress has overcome political obstacles from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with unexpected unity.

The government is now set to face the more difficult challenge of pushing the State’s economy towards growth and bring the finances back on track.

Breaking one of the oldest Hindutva alliances in Indian politics, the Shiv Sena and the BJP parted ways the day after the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya. As the Sena joined Congress and NCP to form the MVA government based on a Common Minimum Program (CMP), the BJP leaders were confident that this, “unnatural” alliance, would not last more than three months. To corner the Sena, the BJP came up with issues like Ram temple, Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar, and fundamental differences in ideology. However, Sena president and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray not only handled the issues with care but the two other parties also ensured that the alliance was not in a jeopardy.

Numbers game

In the 288-member Assembly, the Sena, NCP and Congress have 56, 54 and 44 MLAs respectively. “No individual leader can destabilise the government due to such numbers. It makes difficult to run an ‘Operation Lotus’ like in Karnataka. The government won’t face any threat until an entire party decides to move out,” said political commentator Abhay Deshpande. In addition, the central leadership of the BJP is busy sorting out the mess created over CAA and NRC nationally and also the successive Assembly losses. “The infighting within the State unit of BJP too has begun,” he said.

Unlike the previous government, decentralisation of responsibilities in MVA government has ensured rising levels of mutual trust between all three stakeholders. Every minister is independently anchoring projects in respective departments, with negligible interference from the CM’s office.

Hindutva plank

In the ongoing Budget session of the legislature, BJP in an attempt to corner Sena, wanted to bring a resolution honouring Savarkar. Mr. Thackeray not only sidelined the request but did not even attended the Assembly on the day. Deputy CM and NCP leader Ajit Pawar praised Savarkar for his contribution to freedom struggle, but added that his party definitely has ideological differences.

Mr Thackeray will be going to Ayodhya on March 7 and neither the Congress nor NCP has opposed it. The CM has repeatedly clarified that even though there are some ideological differences between three parties, they are united on CMP. Mr. Thackeray has recently launched sharp attacks on BJP over violence in JNU and Delhi riots. He has clarified that there will be no NRC in Maharashtra and NPR will not have controversial columns. It has further cemented the tripartite alliance.

“The Sena is moving from right wing party to right of centre party. They have realised that they cannot survive in an alliance with BJP on Hindutva plank. The party is changing is strategy and it seems to be working,” said Mr Deshpande.

Challenges ahead

After overcoming initial challenges such as portfolio distribution, the CM’s inexperience in administration, and the uneasiness with new allies, the government now faces the task of bringing the economy back on track. It has announced two mega schemes such as crop loan waiver and Shiv Bhojan thaali for ₹10, with both running smoothly as of now.

The Budget will be presented on March 6. Contrary to the BJP claims, the MVA government has been claiming that actual loan taken by the State, including guarantees for various infra projects, runs into ₹7 lakh crore. With BJP government at the Centre, the extra financial help is unlikely as Mr. Thackeray has been asking for payment of GST dues. Bringing in more industries, increasing the State revenue, and tackling relations with the Centre are key challenges before the government.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 5:39:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/in-three-months-mva-overcomes-political-challenges-gets-ready-to-tackle-finances/article30953480.ece

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