The chief asked me to find out how the common man has reacted to the split in the "Shiv Sena and which party is he supporting.
So I found a typical common man at the ST bus terminus at Bellasis Road. "Which party are you supporting, the Shiv Sena-J, led by Mr. Manohar Joshi, or the Shiv Sena-B, led By Mr. Chhagan Bhujbal?" I asked.
"I am carefully considering the relative merits of the two parties," he said. Booth represent the aspirations of the ordinary people like myself and both have an important role to play in the achivements of Hindutva."
"Very true," I said. "But which one do you support, the Shiv Sena-J or the Shiv Sena-B?"
"Well, the Shiv Sena-J did restore to Maharastrians their pride and organise many bandhs, but the Shiv Sena-B is also looking after the interests of the OBCs in Maharastra and Mr. Bhujbal has promised even bigger bandhs. It is necessary that we give him a chance to prove his worth."
"By all means, give Mr. Bhujbal a chance," I said. "However, if the elections were to be held tomorrow, which party would you vote for, SS-J or SS-B?"
"I did not know the elections were to be held tomorrow," the common man siad. "Perhaps, the SS-J is forcing the Congress-I to hold the elections tomorrow because it is angry with the split that it thinks has been engineered by the government. This may or may not be the case, because the SS-B did intially have the support of former SS-J members."
"Never mind all that," I said. "All I would like to know right now is are you with the SS-J or the SS-B. That's all."
"Well, I will to consider their electoral alignments. As you know, the SS-J enjoys the support of the BJP, or the BJP enjoys the support of the SS-J, but the SS-B may now get the support of the Congress-I, though this will depend on how the former members of the Congress-S feel about it. It is an interesting situation, you will agree."
"It does not matter whether I agree or not," I said. "The point is, who are you with? Surely you can give a straight answer to a simple question like that."
"But that is what I am doing," the common man siad. "A lot depends on whose flag flies on top of the Mantralaya, the flag of the SS-J or the SS-B."
So I returned to the office, feeling somewhat frustrated, and told the chief: "I have still to work out which party the people of Maharashtra are supporting."
The chief said: "Do that. But be absolutely objective, we do not want to take sides like the speaker of the Maharashtra assembly."