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Ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, Maharashtra has plunged into political

uncertainty. Two separate developments have taken place. The first is a sense that
all is not well within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA)-ruling coalitions of the Shiv
Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress. This was prompted by meetings
Sharad Pawar — widely considered the architect of the alliance — had with Governor
Bhagat Singh Koshyari and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, despite Mr Pawar making
it clear that the government was safe. The perception was reinforced by Congress
leader Rahul Gandhi’s remark that the party was not the “key decision-maker” in the
state. To be sure, he prefaced it with appreciating the battle the state was waging
— but the remark came across as distancing the Congress from the state government’s
performance. He has, since, spoken to the CM and expressed his support. The second
development has been the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stepping up its attacks on
the state government, with party functionaries calling for President’s rule in the
state.

It is time for both sides to step back and focus on the crisis at hand. For its
part, the BJP — as the Opposition — has a right to hold the government accountable
for its handling of the pandemic. But it should resist from any adventurism, be it
through poaching legislators from the other side or using central power to impose
President’s rule. A change in regime will not solve the structural problems in
Maharashtra overnight. But the onus also lies on the government of the day. The MVA
needs to provide more coherent governance, smoothen differences among allies and
step up its management of the pandemic.

India has signalled it will not back down at any of the border confrontations it
has with China. Presumably, this means that the Narendra Modi government will
settle for nothing less than Chinese troops moving back to their original positions
and the status quo ante being restored along the Line of Actual Control. There can
be no question of this being the correct stance: The experience of all China’s
neighbours has been that concessions are treated as weakness, not friendship.
Beijing may have hoped that its surprise mobilisation at three points in Ladakh and
Sikkim will result in a quick round of the misnamed Chinese checkers. Instead, both
sides are settling for something more akin to the ancient Middle Kingdom game of
go, a grinding battle of manoeuvre that will go on through the summer.

The Galwan Valley confrontation is the latest in a series of confrontations


triggered by Chinese attempts to hinder, if not block, India’s infrastructure
construction along the border. India has fast-tracked road construction to the
Daulat Beg Oldie area of northern Ladakh since repeated standoffs in that region.
The construction of a connecting road into the Galwan Valley was seemingly the
trigger for China to send in thousands of soldiers. While China has sought to
hinder construction before, the size of its intervention is unusual and indicates
there may be greater ambitions involved. China’s description of the situation as
“stable and controllable” is mildly reassuring. But the motives hardly matter. The
Indian stance must be the same regardless. The difficult part will be calibrating
India’s response to apply pressure on China and establish the credibility of
India’s response. New Delhi must be prepared to show that if events along the
border get out of hand, they will have a serious impact on other parts of the
bilateral ties.

China has long sought stability on its southern border as well as the dominance of
the terrain. As India has ramped up its infrastructure, a process that has also
included the deployment of fighters, new artillery, cruise missiles and, most
recently, American helicopters and airlift, its dominance is coming under threat.
India’s bold moves regarding Kashmir and China’s deteriorating geopolitical
environment may be leading Beijing to up the ante. If so, it is all the more reason
for India to stand firm.