A Mahabharata is being played out in Maharashtra even before Election Day. For the BJP Shiv Sena alliance, it’s all about kaun banega mukhya mantri. The saffron alliance knows its in pole position to capture power, but wants something more: it wants the kursi of the chief minister. Which is why it’s just not about the alliance getting a majority, it’s now about which party in the alliance will get more seats. The Congress NCP are fighting another war: they both know they are on a losing wicket, so their battle is for relevance. Neither side can afford extinction of the kind they witnessed in the Lok Sabha polls so they are bargaining to get a few additional seats.
What does this say about our political class? Elections are about the unadulterated pursuit of power, but they are also about some element of accountability to the people. Why should the people of Maharashtra vote for a particular party if the parties can’t even settle seat distribution without bitterness? Maharashtra is beset with a litany of problems: no party it seems wants to address the core issues of agrarian distress, of unmanageable urbanisation, of rampant corruption. Instead, it’s now Udhav vs Gadkari, Ajit Pawar versus Prithviraj Chavan in an almost tragi-comic political drama that is a bit like haggling fishwives at Sassoon Dock in Mumbai. Surely, the people of Maharashtra deserve better.