The alliance of the Congress with the Shiv Sena is a move out of desperation. It is an attempt by the party to save some face in the state and also regain some losses at the hands of the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.
The time they took to agree to the alliance was to deliberate on how the people would react to them ditching their secular and inclusive ideology. By having a stake in the government in a powerful state like Maharashtra, the party can get the much-needed glue to prevent it from disintegrating.
In fact, the Congress had lost its secular image in the last election itself when Rahul Gandhi went flip-flopping to temples. So, the Muslims have already become disillusioned with the Congress. It didn’t really have too much to lose. It is just a way to keep its house in order.
Apart from its secular credentials, the Congress has a lot more to lose by joining hands with a core Hindutva party like Shiv Sena.
In terms of Maratha leaders, it does not have a binding force.
People like Sanjay Nirupam and Milind Deora threaten to split the party as they know the power centres in the state unit have shifted to the likes of Chavans and Shindes.
In fact, this alliance is going to help none of three parties involved. While the Congress has lost face in the eyes of the voters by abandoning its secular ideology, the NCP is being seen as a party that jumped ship from its pre-poll alliance. The Shiv Sena is being seen as power-hungry.
The alliance will result in the Congress breaking into fractions as many leaders within the party will not be happy with the decision as they would lose face in their constituencies.
One also needs to remember that the BJP is still in power at the Centre.
It still has the power to ‘create instability’ in the present government and call for President’s Rule.
If this is done and mid-term elections are held, the three-party alliance will face a drubbing while the BJP will gain significantly.
So, the alliance will prove to be very destructive for the party.