Editorial: Baddies And Shootouts Back In The Commercial Capital

Political and commercial rivalries ending in shootouts and bloodbaths is the narrative of the badlands of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, or of the now-diminished underworld gangs of Mumbai. The narrative played itself out twice this week in the Mumbai metropolitan region between politicians of rival factions and parties. Two local politicians from suburban Borivali, Abhishek Ghosalkar and Mauris Noronha, went on Facebook Live on Thursday evening, ostensibly to put up a united face though they were from rival factions of the Shiv Sena.

Within minutes, Noronha shot at Ghosalkar, a corporator from the Uddhav Thackeray Shiv Sena faction who was seeking re-election. His father was a long-time Sena corporator and MLA. Noronha, an Eknath Shinde loyalist, then shot himself in the head; both men died within minutes of being taken to the hospital. Earlier this week, three-time BJP MLA Ganpat Gaikwad fired ten shots at Mahesh Gaikwad, leader of the Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde faction) inside a police station in Ulhasnagar. These incidents can be dismissed as only internal rivalries between politicians taking ugly turns, but it would be a mistake to do so. They point to disturbing trends.

The first is that the splits in the Shiv Sena in 2022 and Nationalist Congress Party last year, with one faction joining the Shinde-led government and the other sitting in the Opposition, has led to a great churn within the parties bringing old competitions and resentments to the fore. The BJP, primarily deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis who engineered the splits, is gleefully watching rivals within the Sena and NCP finish each other, literally or figuratively. He is incidentally the state’s home minister; responsibility for lawlessness rests at his table. The second disquieting trend is that firearms are easily available to politicians and wannabe politicians among others and guns becoming the default problem-settler. This is not the tradition of politics in Maharashtra.

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