By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Jun 23 (IANS): Exactly a month ago (May 21), the Shiv Sena had expressed serious concerns over the badly 'leaking' Congress with so many leaders deserting the party, and how the youth of India would lose confidence in the grand old party.
A month later, the Sena has been knocked down and practically washed out, by an unexpected 'political cloudburst' that hit the saffron party last Monday (June 20-21) night, with a series of nightmarish developments in quick succession.
The Sena was rudely shaken, when it became clear by early Tuesday morning that a major storm in the form of a 'MLAs revolt' was raging and threatened to uproot the 30-month-old Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress.
Ironically, on May 21, the Sena was distressed over the desertion by leaders like Sunil Jakhar and Hardik Patel in quick succession, preceded by Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasada.
"The Congress' condition is like a cloudburst. The problem is where to put the patch and seal it. The leaks started on the concluding day of the party's recent Chintan Shivir in Rajasthan," the sagely Sena had said.
Perhaps unknown to the Sena, it was around that time the group of rebels led by senior party leader and Minister Eknath Shinde were busy hatching their own little political deluge - with a flood of outgoing MLAs - that now threatens to sink the MVA.
Sena's anxiety for its ally came on a day when the Congress observed the death anniversary of the late ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (May 21), and ironically, the 'Hindutva' party's own countdown to a probable diminution started on the Summer Solstice Day (June 21).
There is seething rage and helplessness at various levels in the Sena, how it failed to catch the signals of a rebellion brewing up right under its noses, why it could not plug the 'leaks' in time after they were belatedly detected and finally culminated into a flash flood within barely 48 hours.
There are reports that the State Intelligence Department (SID) and other agencies had sounded out drab warnings around March-April on the developments, but the MVA failed to take them seriously or react.
Some Congress and NCP senior leaders were visibly irked over how such a large chunk of MLAs could "disappear" into the dark night of June 20-21 at a single shot, undetected and unsuspected, and by the time the grim reality dawned on them the next morning, it was already "too late".
A Congress leader pointed out that the most shocking aspect was the "Sena MLAs' quietly slipping off", taking advantage of the fracas witnessed during the MLCs polls results on Monday and the boisterous celebrations that followed.
One leader said that it has now surfaced how the MLAs sneaked out citing bland reasons like "going to the loo," "getting a headache", "not well", "upset tummy" etc, and vanished from the "party scene" altogether.
A Congress leader even questioned how the MLAs' police escorts got no whiff of the murky goings-on, why they did not alert the police control or other authorities especially while crossing the district or state borders, and perhaps helped nip the rebellion in the bud.
The current status is the Sena is left with around 18 MLAs, the rebel group is claiming the support of around 40-plus MLAs, enough for a vertical split and joining any potential new dispensation that may materialise.
Barely 48 hours after the shock revolt, the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray quietly vacated his official residence and shifted to his private home, amid speculation that he would rather quit - to save the party from a split and the government from a downfall.
Watching the party and government slipping out of the hands like sand, the Sena, along with NCP-Congress are making all-out efforts to salvage the situation or prepare to sit in the Opposition - a classic scenario of hoping for the best and preparing for the worst!