The Maharashtra government has hit a rough patch with each constituent of the Maha Vikas Aghadi — the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress — speaking in different voices on the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Population Register and the investigation into the Elgar Parishad case. These contradictory statements have sparked hope in the Opposition BJP of the tripartite government's imminent collapse. But this may be the BJP’s wishful thinking as the three parties aren’t going to endanger their government and are prepared to arrive at a compromise on any issue, no matter how sensitive.
While the Congress and NCP are strongly opposing the CAA and NPR, Mr Thackeray has said he won’t stop NPR’s implementation in Maharashtra. On the CAA, Mr Thackeray said that there was nothing in the law which should worry any Indian citizen, which left the Congress and NCP red-faced.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar recently said the MVA government would examine the questions being asked during the NPR survey and take a final call. Similarly, Congress leaders in Maharashtra also said the NPR will not be implemented against the wishes of people. Mr Pawar has also said a meeting would be held by the leaders of all three parties to discuss the MVA’s stand on contentious issues like the CAA and NPR.
One issue that threatens to strain ties between the Shiv Sena and NCP in particular is the Elgar Parishad case, which refers to a gathering of activists, former judges and political leaders on December 31, 2017, at Shaniwar Wada in Pune, where participants spoke of putting up a fight against the “repressive” social, economic and cultural policies of the Narendra Modi government. A day later, riots erupted at Bhima-Koregaon, where dalits gathered for the bicentenary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
The Pune police later filed a chargesheet in the Elgar Parishad case, where it claimed the event was organised by the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), with the aim of “spreading rebellious thoughts”, instigating violence at Bhima Koregaon and establishing a nationwide “anti-fascist front” to “wage war against the government”. The police probe also claimed some organisers hatched a conspiracy to eliminate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
After coming to power, the NCP wanted to hand the Elgar Parishad case investigation to a SIT, but the Union home ministry decided to rope in the National Investigation Agency. Mr Thackeray allowed this against its ally’s wishes. Though Mr Pawar was upset with Mr Thackeray’s decision, the latter quickly worked his way around it by saying the state police would continue its probe into the Bhima-Koregaon riots while the NIA was handed over only the Elgar Parishad case, thus allowing a parallel probe by the Maharashtra police.
The Sena, NCP and Congress got what they desired on joining forces: Mr Thackeray ascended the chief minister’s throne, the NCP returned to power; and the Congress, which was staring at an existential crisis, got a chance to participate in the government. And none of the three is eager to squander that which providence has handed them on a silver platter....