Shiv Sena is witnessing a redux of what NT Rama Rao’s Telugu Desam Party saw in August 1995, a political turmoil that not just dethroned him but also finished his political career. Is Uddhav Thackeray heading for the same fate?
WHY THE TURMOIL?
In TDP’s case, almost all of the party MLAs were against NTR giving the party command in the hands of his second wife N Lakshmi Parvathy. Parvathy was verbally abused by her critics for this. They alleged she tricked the legendary actor-turned-politician into marrying her. For NTR, Parvathy was his lucky charm. He returned to the power corridors with a record majority after marrying her.
In Shiv Sena’s case, the rebel MLAs claim their Hindutva-based party has been forced into an unnatural alliance with the NCP and Congress and their only demand is to come out of the political bloc called Maha Vikas Aghadi. Hindutva is the core vote bank of Shiv Sena MLAs and they would not like to face a better Hindutva force, BJP, in the next polls. They, in fact, want the Sena to realign with the BJP.
NTR’s son-in-law N Chandrababu Naidu was also finance and revenue minister in the government. Naidu was not alone from NTR’s family in the upheaval. NTR’s other son-in-law, Daggubati Venkateswara Rao, and two sons, Nandamuri Harikrishna and Balakrishna, worked together to dethrone him. TDP MLAs were not happy at being ignored and controlled by the politically inexperienced N Lakshmi Parvathy. Naidu, in fact, had a heated conversation with NTR over the issue but the latter refused to listen to him or any other voice criticising Parvathy. He, in a way, had become inaccessible to the party legislators.
Naidu said the revolt against NTR was the only way out of the political turmoil the party was going deep into, the only way to save it from an evil force (N Lakshmi Parvathy).
In Shiv Sena’s case, Maharashtra’s PWD and urban development minister Eknath Shinde, a senior leader, and once a close aide of Uddhav Thackeray, is leading the rebel camp. The common complaint of Shiv Sena MLAs is that Uddhav has become totally inaccessible. “You wait for hours at CM’s bungalow but you will not be given time to meet him,” they say. Even Uddhav’s cabinet ministers apparently faced problems in meeting or reaching out to him.
Eknath Shinde says the revolt is now the only way out to take the party back to the ideals of Balashaeb Thackeray that the current leadership has forgotten.
In the 1994 Andhra Pradesh assembly polls, TDP, under NTR, won 216 out of the 294 seats. During the revolt, around 200 MLAs were in the rebel camp.
The uprising in the Shiv Sena began on Monday, June 20. That day, as per Shinde’s claims, he had the support of 11 Sena MLAs which has now reached over 50, as claimed by him. It means, as per Shinde’s claims, over 75% of Sena’s 55 MLAs have revolted against Uddhav.
THE OUTCOME – TDP
The main aim of the TDP revolt in 1995, as per Naidu, was leadership change and the formation of a new government. With 92% MLAs standing against NTR, along with some of his relatives, it was a quick turn of events.
The revolt began on August 23, 1995. The rebel MLAs were hosted in Hotel Viceroy with their numbers swelling on subsequent days like in Shiv Sena’s case. The rebel group removed NTR as Telugu Desam Legislature Party (TDLP) leader, electing Naidu. The next stage was to dethrone NTR and make Naidu the CM of undivided Andhra.
On August 25, 1995, NTR sacked five ministers including Naidu, passed a resolution to dissolve the assembly for fresh elections, and approached the governor to hand over cabinet resolutions. But Naidu was a quick mover. The governor already had the rebel TDLP resolution by the time NTR had reached Raj Bhavan. On August 27, 1995, NTR was asked by the governor to prove his majority by August 31.
On August 30, 1995, NTR was sacked and Naidu was elected as party chief by the TDP state executive committee. NTR resigned before the trust vote on August 31, 1995. Naidu was sworn in on September 1, 1995.
THE OUTCOME – SHIV SENA
Eknath Shinde was Shiv Sena’s legislature party leader. He was sacked on June 21, 2022. On June 22, the party gave rebel MLAs an ultimatum to attend the party meeting by 5 pm at the CM’s residence or they would lose their membership. Shinde hit back, saying the order was legally not valid with numbers on his side showing signatures of 34 Sena MLAs. Shinde, in fact, called the group with him the real Shiv Sena.
Uddhav tried to appeal to rebel Sena leaders emotionally the same day to dissuade them but was silent on their main demand – of coming out of the MVA alliance. He praised Sharad Pawar of the NCP and Sonia Gandhi from the Congress and blamed the BJP for the situation without naming it. He also moved out of the chief minister’s official residence and offered the CM chair to any other Sena leader.
The Shinde camp has now decided to claim Sena’s election symbol ‘bow and arrow’ with over 50 MLAs on this side.
In TDP’s case, it took nine days for the political turmoil to get over. The Sena political chaos is in its fifth day on Friday, with a resolution still some distance away.