Over the past five years, Maharashtra’s political landscape has been a tumultuous stage, marked by party splits, leader defections, and unexpected alliances that have blurred the lines between friend and foe. As the State gears up to vote in three phases, voters find themselves confused, unsure of where their leaders stand, which party they might align with for a Lok Sabha candidacy and where they would go after getting elected. In response to this uncertainty, voters now demand a written commitment from candidates: a pledge that they will not switch parties if elected.

A public board in Pune city, which has gone viral, has laid down a bold ultimatum for political candidates. Citizens have put up a board that candidates from any party must include a written commitment in their introductions to voters, pledging to remain loyal to their party, its policies, and voters for a five-year term. The commitment also includes a vow not to join any other party during this period. The candidate should also promise, “If I join any other party don’t vote for me and my family members in any election,” the board mentions. The citizens who put up the board urge voters to support only those candidates who make this promise.

“This situation is so uncertain that we can’t even be sure if the candidate I’m voting for will stay in the same party. There’s no guarantee from any political party or candidate. It feels like voters are being deceived. I wouldn’t be surprised if people start demanding affidavits from candidates to ensure their loyalty to the party,” remarks NS Bhaskaran, a senior citizen.

Grilling candidates

In the rustic, rural heartlands, voters are not merely questioning, but grilling candidates on their opportunism and shifting loyalties. The drama unfolds as voters demand a promise, not just for their vote, but for the very soul of Maharashtra’s political landscape.

Former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who recently switched his allegiance from Congress to the BJP, faced intense scrutiny from protestors. They questioned his track record on Maratha reservation during his time with the Congress and expressed skepticism about any potential changes now that he has joined the BJP.

MP Sanjay Mandlik, the Shiv Sena candidate from Kolhapur Lok Sabha constituency aligned with the Eknath Shinde faction, leaving Uddhav Thackeray and his party, sparking a revolt. Expressing doubt about Mandlik’s future loyalty, a Kolhapur citizen, PD Chavan, remarked, “I want to vote for a candidate who will remain committed to their party. However, in today’s political chaos in Maharashtra, finding such a candidate is challenging.”