RSS Criticism Of "Ill-Advised" BJP-NCP Alliance Triggers Political Firestorm In Maharashtra

Speculation is rife that the BJP is contemplating breaking up with Ajit Pawar.

Elections Written by Updated: Jun 14, 2024, 2:10 pm
RSS Criticism Of

The BJP and its allies Shiv Sena and NCP secured only 17 of the 48 seats in Maharashtra.

After an article in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) mouthpiece criticised the BJP’s alliance with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as a contributing factor to the party’s Lok Sabha drubbing in Maharashtra, tensions flared between the two fairly new friends. The INDIA alliance, Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in Maharashtra, winning more Lok Sabha seats than the BJP-led Mahayuti in the state exacerbated the situation.

The RSS expressed discontent with the BJP leadership’s decision to break the NCP and ally with the Pawar-led faction ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The two parties sparred over an article in Organiser, penned by Ratan Sharda, which slammed the BJP’s move to ally with the Ajit Pawar-led NCP, terming it “ill-advised.”

Stressing that the BJP and Eknath Shinde Shiv Sena had a comfortable majority, Sharda wrote in the article, “Why was this ill-advised step taken? BJP supporters were hurt because they had fought against this Congress ideology for years and were persecuted. In a single stroke, BJP reduced its brand value.”

“In a single stroke, BJP reduced its brand value. After years of struggle to be numero uno in Maharashtra, it became just another political party without any difference,” he added.

Local leaders were ignored to favour defectors, who were brought in huge numbers before the elections, Sharda charged.

“Maharashtra is a prime example of unnecessary politicking and avoidable manipulations. Well-performing parliamentarians were ignored to accommodate such late comers,” it added.

He argued that the idea that every seat can be won on PM Modi’s name has limited value. “This idea became self-defeating when candidates were changed, imposed at the cost of local leaders, and defectors were given more importance,” he said.

“Sacrificing even well-performing Parliamentarians to accommodate later comers hurt… Disinterest of local BJP workers was due to this factor too,” he wrote.

Sharda also showed confidence about the eventual downfall of the NCP in the next few years saying there was no need for this alliance.

“Sharad Pawar would have faded away in two-three years as NCP would have lost energy with infighting between cousins,” he said.

Reacting to the article, senior NCP leader and state minister Chhagan Bhujbal accepted that the article might be true to some extent, but argued,. “Some have also criticised the BJP for including leaders from the Congress, such as former chief minister Ashok Chavan. Even former Congress leader Milind Deora was inducted by CM Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena and made an RS member.”

Bhujbal reminded that the BJP also saw its Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh drop from 63 in 2019 to 33 this time.

Rajya Sabha MP and senior NCP leader Praful Patel, however, said that “an article in a weekly does not reflect the BJP’s stance. It should not be interpreted in that manner.”

On the other hand, NCP youth wing leader Sooraj Chavan disagrees with pawar. He lashed out, saying that when the BJP performs well, credit is given to the hard work of the RSS, but a defeat is pinned on Ajit Pawar.

The BJP, however, said that Sooraj Chavan should not have rushed to comment on the RSS. “The RSS is like a father figure to all of us. There is no need to make comments about the RSS. The BJP has not commented against the NCP. It would be better if such issues are discussed during NDA meetings,” BJP leader Pravin Darekar said.

The rift between the BJP and the NCP first surfaced when the NCP rejected a Minister of State position in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government. Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel, a former cabinet minister, expected a cabinet berth and refused the offer of a junior minister’s role. Pawar then said that his party is “ready to wait” for a cabinet position.

The Ajit Pawar-led NCP secured just one seat, Raigad, out of the four it contested in the Lok Sabha polls. It also lost Baramati, where Ajit Pawar’s wife, Sunetra Pawar, to Supriya Sule, the sitting MP from the rival NCP faction, his cousin and Sharad Pawar’s daughter.

Reports indicate that the BJP has initiated an internal survey to determine whether it should fight the upcoming Assembly elections later this year on its own. Speculation is rife that the BJP is contemplating breaking up with Ajit Pawar.

“These surveys have been launched to find out how the party will get the simple majority going solo. Besides, the surveys will also show how the BJP will perform in an alliance with the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena. It will also gauge the mood about whether to continue its alliance with the NCP,” a BJP source said.

The INDIA bloc won 30 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, while the BJP and its allies secured 17. After UP’s 80, Maharashtra sends the second-highest number of representatives to the Lok Sabha—48.

Nationally, the BJP’s tally of 240 seats was significantly lower than its 2019 count of 303 and the 282 seats it won in 2014, whereas the Congress saw strong growth, winning 99 seats compared to 52 in 2019 and 44 in 2014. The INDIA bloc, which won 232 seats, also defied all exit poll predictions.