In a climactic conclusion to Maharashtra’s electoral drama, thirteen pivotal seats, including six in the vibrant hub of Mumbai, are poised for voting on Monday. This phase marks the culmination of a fiercely contested battle across all 48 seats in the State. Against the backdrop of a political circus — characterised by party splits, the demise of old alliances and the birth of new ones — Maharashtra has been a hotbed of political drama.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi criss-crossed the State, leaving no stone unturned to replicate the stellar performance of 2019 polls when the BJP and the then-united Shiv Sena clinched a remarkable 41 seats. The political landscape has been anything but stable, with court battles and the active involvement of investigative agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) adding to the intrigue.

High Stakes game

The final phase of elections in Maharashtra holds immense significance for Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray, whose party has been synonymous with Mumbai politics since its inception in 1966. Mumbai has long been Shiv Sena’s stronghold, although the party has weathered splits during Bal Thackeray’s tenure.

The 2022 revolt by Eknath Shinde — supported by the BJP — was not just another split; it saw Shinde wresting the party name and symbol from Uddhav, marking the first election where Uddhav is without the traditional Shiv Sena identity.

The stakes are high, with BJP aiming to dismantle Uddhav Thackeray’s grip on Mumbai and Maharashtra, while Uddhav is determined to defend his political turf. The Lok Sabha elections are a precursor to the State Assembly polls later this year, followed by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation elections. Shiv Sena has held sway over the Mumbai civic body for three decades, but BJP is eager to wrest control.

Uddhav has urged Mumbai voters to consider the city’s status as India’s financial capital, warning that a vote for BJP could lead to Ahmedabad overtaking Mumbai. The opposition parties have accused Modi and BJP of shifting major projects and industries to Gujarat, allegedly diminishing Mumbai’s importance. In contrast, BJP has emphasised its vision of elevating Mumbai to a world-class status, a goal they claim only they can achieve.

Close Fights

As Maharashtra gears up for the final voting phase, all eyes are on the 13 constituencies witnessing intense battles between the BJP-led alliance and the Uddhav Thackeray-Sharad Pawar-Congress alliance. The 2019 Lok Sabha polls saw a landslide victory for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, securing 41 seats (23 for BJP and 18 for Shiv Sena). Sharad Pawar’s NCP clinched four seats, while the Congress, MIM and an independent candidate won one seat each. However, the political landscape in Maharashtra has seen dramatic shifts since the 2019 elections, leading to considerable chaos.

While the opposition alliance in Maharashtra is confident of securing over 30 seats in the elections, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the State will vote to re-elect Narendra Modi as Prime Minister for the third consecutive term, ensuring a sweeping victory for the BJP-led alliance.