Shiv Sena vs Shiv Sena Saga and learnings

During my MBA days, we use to read multiple case studies, but don’t remember having any case study on politics. Do you know, its ironical that political case studies are not discussed in school or colleges but to survive or succeed in corporate world or in life, one needs to be always politically correct. Every single politically correct decision drives you to success whereas any wrong step can doom you.

Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sena witnessing most difficult time in its history. For Shiv Sena, it’s not about survival anymore but the fight is for the existence. Dynast bound to be doomed one day but for Shiv Sena, it is happening rather quickly.

Where did Shiv Sena or rather Uddhav Thackeray went wrong. Why a lifetime loyalist turned rebel? Can it have been avoided? What will be the future of Thackery family in Indian politics and importantly what we can learn from this saga of political fight for supremacy-

  • Ideology- For political parties Ideology matters the most. In a bid to be in power, Uddhav Thackeray comprised on the core ideology of the party. The Hindu ideology which was the foundation of Shiv Sena shaken by the unexpected comprise of its president of joining hands with leftist communal parties (NCP and Congress). Shiv Sainiks must have felt a sense of identity loss, however they stood with their president hoping he will not comprise on the ideology despite sharing power with NCP and Congress however opposite happened. To please NCP and Congress, Uddhav Thackeray began compromising the sena ideology which started demoralizing the workers. Exactly at this point of time, party workers started thinking of exploring other opportunities. Do you know- Companies or leaders who deviate from their core values soon find themselves alone in the organization. No longer they enjoy support from the employees. This can mostly happen when your organization partners with other company who have different values and ethical standards. When forced by leaders to work on this partnership, employees prefer to go silent and slowly move out of the organization. Same thing happened with Shiv Sena.
  • Advisors– India’s rich history is testimony to the fact that a good advisor can win you the war whereas a poor advisor will lead you to dooms day. Lord Krishna helped Pandawas to win the war whereas Shakuni was responsible for the demise of Duryodhan. Chankaya made Chandragupta Maurya as king of Akhand Bharat. One of the mistakes that Uddhav Thackeray did was trusting Sanjay Raut blindly, giving him freedom to run the party. He instigated BJP so much that finally BJP came to hit Shiva Sena leaders. You can call it revenge politics but could have been avoided by Sena however Sanjay Raut keeping abusing BJP as they never have to see each other again in life. And icing on the cake, He trusted Sharad Pawar to run the MVA alliance who was blamed by many for the split in Shiv Sena with Raj Thackery and BJP. How can be somebody be mentor to the alliance who had backstabbed his own party in the past. Quite often these scenarios are repeated in corporate world. How often you have seen an organization going back to hire employees who have left them in past during critical situation. Corporates must avoid this practice because this potentially demotivate the loyal employees and in longer run can be harmful for the organization.
  • Understanding of the organization set-up– Balasaheb-ji built Shiv Sena by his blood and sweat. Unlike Congress or NCP, Shiv Sena was built as cadre-based party however Uddhav post alliance with NCP and Congress tried to run the party as his family-owned property. He took cadre for granted and assumed that the cadre will follow his order. We say in corporate world that never push your loyal employees to the point where they no longer care. Uddhav actions of alienating the party cadres pushed them to the point where they no longer care about him despite Uddhav being son of great Balasaheb Thackeray. Whether you are running a family business or company, always ensure that you are listening to the employees of all levels, and they are part of your decisions. Otherwise, they will stop caring about you and slowly move to a place where they are cared and respected.
  • Communication – Radical changes are most difficult to be implemented in any organization and more difficult in political parties. We can see despite series of losses; congress is not able to replace Gandhi’s from leadership. While comprising on ideology to be in alliance with NCP and Congress was Uddhav Thackeray mistake which was never accepted by the party cadre, he followed it with another blunder which of not communicating with the cadres. The kind of change Uddhav initiated needed to be backed by transparent communication with workers at all levels however Uddhav never tried to explain the workers on the reasons that forced him to go for an alliance with Congress and NCP. It may be true that BJP has promised him CM post before the election, but it doesn’t mean that for being in power, he can partner with anyone. He could have chosen to stay in opposition. Do you know- many a times a front-line employee never able to understand that reasons for decisions taken by management. The reasoning behind the decision by the management can be right or wrong however if its not in line with the values of the organization, then its leader responsibility to explain it to employees. One should not assume that employees will accept everything on face value.
  • Favoritism- Merit must supersedes everything. I have not met a single person who don’t know about this but met very few who practiced it in personal and professional life. With this alliance, Shiv Sainiks witnessed series of radical changes and one being swearing of Uddhav Thackeray as CM of Maharashtra. Prior to this, Thackery family always stayed away from constitutional positions. While this was acceptable to the cadres, what went wrong was the series of decision that followed Uddhav swearing ceremony. First one was appointing his son Aditya Thackeray as Minister. Freedom to national spokesperson Sanjay Raut for decision related to Party. And finally, under the influence of Sharad Pawar, allocating key portfolios to alliance partners NCP and Congress. In fact, it was general perception that government is run by Sharad Pawar and partly by Aditya Thackeray and Sanjay Raut. The ground leaders like Eknath Shinde and others felt alienated from the party. Organization can grow exponentially if decisions are taken on merit, but favoritism will lead it to the path of destruction. Leaders whether corporate or political must promote meritorious people and avoid favoritism.
  • Utilization of resources – There are times in life when everything goes south. When the time of one’s destruction comes, his or her mind thinks the opposite of what it should. Uddhav Thackeray still could have avoided this revolt had he kept eye on the intelligence reports. He has entire Maharashtra government machinery at his disposable. It’s impossible to believe that intelligence units were unaware of this move by rebel leaders. Reports in media confirms that Uddhav Thackeray regularly avoided intelligence unit briefings just like he avoided cabinet and party meetings. As leader, you must make optimum utilization of resources. Nanda dynast Dhanananda always avoided intelligence briefing meeting and left it to its council. One of the reasons that led to collapse of Nanda dynasty. The coup by Eknath Shinde would have never reached Guwahati if Uddhav remained little vigilant.
  • Misconception (Only a Thackeray can run Shiv Sena)- A few days ago, Uddhav Thackeray posted an emotional video stating there can not be any Shiv Sena without Thackeray. I am surprised to witness such immaturity. Probably the reason why dynast failed to grow the organization. I don’t understand what made them to believe that Shiv Sena will not exist without Thackeray, or few thinks Congress will become vanished without Gandhi. Let me tell you, however the strong personality, people come and go but the organization keeps running. As leader of the organization whether political party or corporate, you must understand that everyone is replaceable. If you have the merit, you will survive and grow otherwise someone else meritorious will push you out to run the organization. Never corrupt your mind with the thought that only you can do and other don’t have the ability because lazy minds are destined to lose.
  • Not able to identify the threat- There is sense that rebels want to safeguard their future and so is this coup. We all know, most Sena leaders won 2019 elections riding on Narendra Modi wave. They may be fearing that in next elections which is just a couple of years away could be a very difficult to win. While leaders and cadres are very much aware of the possible defeat in next elections, Uddhav Thackeray choose to remain aloof to the upcoming threat of possible loss. He never took initiative to devise strategy to overcome this hurdle which I believe is the final nail in the coffin. As head of the party, you must know on what keeps your family members awake? What they are fearing? and you should strategize, communicate to ensure they feel confident and safe. Sena leaders lost complete confidence in Uddhav Thackeray because of his inaction.

In democratic set-up, one can’t run the government seating in his ivory towers. Along with government, Uddhav tried to run the party from his home. For the last two & half years, Maharashtra only witnessed stagnation in growth, highest covid cases. Laggard states have performed better than Maharashtra during this period.

Only time will tell what will happen to this government however Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is only responsible for this coup. He must introspect before blaming Eknath Shinde and party workers. You must be aware that during Covid pandemic, it was Eknath Shinde who worked closely with party workers and ensured help for the common people. He enjoys a good support in greater Mumbai and only a miracle can save Uddhav Thackeray government, and party from splitting.

The important learning from this entire saga is never take your own people for granted. The one who is working hard for you is more important than the one who have entered into an opportunistic alliance with you. To please an external partner, never ever push your own employees and in personal life your family members because the most difficult time in life is when your own people are sitting against you.

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