Maharashtra Election: Does ‘Ideology’ Matter To Political Parties Anymore?

उधव ठाकरे
Uddhav Thackeray

With Uddhav Thackeray being sworn-in as 18th chief minister of Maharashtra on November 28, 2019, what goes well is the colloquial saying – it’s not over until the fat lady sings. Nothing is unfair in politics when it comes to grabbing power. A skillful display of ideological differences at public fora is more of a pseudo-intellectual flimflam, a political ideology which people are made to align with and get affiliated with is sheer eye-wash and a web of deceit on part of political parties. Hence, I strongly feel that the so-called ‘ideology’ is meaningless and gobbledygook.

The hands of the electorates seemingly get tied once they queue up before the election booths, cast their votes, and results are declared thereafter. Systematically, their role concludes with their mandate that is entrusted with the representatives they choose.

For that reason, they cannot withdraw their votes already cast in the favour of particular party or individual in case their mandate is not honoured the way election manifesto was explained before the voting process. A picture in this regard is quite clear with the recently-held elections in the state of Maharashtra and month-long melodrama thereafter. The dramatic formation of the government has intrigued every politically-sensitive citizen.

It was apparent that the electorates of the state gave a clearer majority to the BJP- Shiv Sena combine which was a pre-poll alliance. Voters were clear with their hearts and minds with respect to what they wanted was a  BJP-Sena government. To this effect, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) was given almost double seats (105) in comparison to Sena (56) mathematically in the 288-seat assembly.

Considering the sentiments of the body of voters, it has a comprehensible meaning that BJP was to play a bigger role and Shiv Sena a junior. But then, the game Shiv Sena has played so shrewdly so far is before the eyes of the country to see. The move is, of course, not exactly in tune with what people wanted with their exercise of franchise rights. However, each political party has a different narrative to suit them.  They have begun to stoop so low as nobody would expect.

(L-R) Sonia Gandhi, Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar.

The fallout of this political scenario has a valid question: where do the electorates stand wrong? Why should they henceforth acknowledge the pre-poll coalition only to see it broken in the tussle of power-sharing?  Is their mandate so flimsy that it cannot be given any shape by the politicians in connivance with their opponents? Does it go with the spirits of electoral politics that the country ideally and philosophically presents through the textbooks and public discourses?  Is the time up for the nation to take a call on a two-party system?

Today, the soul of Balasaheb Thackeray, who founded the Shiv Sena, might probably be crying at the change of heart the party has had; a party that claimed to have a certain ideology on which it has ridden piggyback since its inception on June 19, 1966. The other way around, it stands to reason that Shiv Sena turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s-clothing and is on the same page as the Congress.

To me, it seems as if they have no ideological difference at all, they have always claimed just to win over the people, and that they have succeeded in throwing dust into the eyes of the public. It looks like what only matters for a party is to grab power, by hook-or-by-crook, and there is no hard-and-fast political ideology at all. Everything seems to be seasonal, just as frogs croak with the season.

Uddhav Thackrey and Devendra Fadnavis

Apparently, with the Shiv Sena breaking its alliance with BJP post-election, no party, including BJP, was able to stake a claim to form the government. Hence, the President’s rule was imposed. In between, what prompted BJP to hurry-scurry and form the government only to survive three days? Such a move dents the party image and also questions its political ideology, particularly when it gets set to shake the hands with the supposedly-tainted Ajit Pawer, a leader of Nationalist Congress Party headed by Sharad Pawar.

Flocking the newly-elected legislators from one hotel to another gave an impression of a shepherd commanding their herd of goats and sheep for shearing. Their parade was mocking the idealistic concept of Bapu’s politics. The country was all giggles at the sight of unprecedented bundling of the legislators into buses and their parade before the media. What message does it give to the young generation that these law-makers are merely puppets in the hands of their political masters? The political ‘hostages’ of elected representatives will, and should, pose many loaded questions that parties have to answer in days to come.

On the face of it, I really feel that ‘bizarre’ describes the role of the grand old Congress party who, in 2006, just to keep the BJP out, installed an independent MLA Madhu Koda as the CM of Jharkhand. A question remains to be answered: will political parties have any sort of ideology to stick to? Can’t we rise above party politics at times and think of strengthening the largest democracy of the world?

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