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Maharashtra elections: BJP-Shiv Sena combine faces challenge from rebels

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on October 09, 2019 Published on October 09, 2019

The flags of Shiv Sena and the BJP (File photo)   -  THE HINDU

The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, which is eyeing a three-fourths majority in the Maharashtra elections, is facing a major challenge from its rebel candidates. A total of 3,239 candidates are in the fray for the October 21 Assembly polls for the 288 seats.

Riding on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity, the BJP State unit is hoping to secure a majority on its own, requiring minimal support from its alliance partner the Shiv Sena.

Of the 288 Assembly seats, the Shiv Sena will contest 124, BJP 150 and allies 14 seats.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP State President Chandrakant Patil made every effort to convince rebel BJP candidates to withdraw from the fray — October 7 was the deadline. However, many rebel candidates refused to oblige and Fadnavis warned them of a massive defeat.

‘Alliance may suffer’

Even as BJP leaders say that majority of rebels have no substantial mass base to eat into the BJP’s vote bank, party insiders said that alliance candidates might suffer in close fights.

The Shiv Sena is also facing challenges from rebel candidates. The party has shared an uncomfortable alliance with the BJP in the last five years and the BJP has forced it to play a secondary role.

In the Konkan area, the combine has already parted ways and the candidates have locked horns with each other.

Compared to the BJP-Sena alliance, the NCP-Congress combine is facing fewer challenges from rebel candidates. After the withdrawal of nominations, it was evident that the NCP had an understanding with Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in some seats — to defeat BJP candidates, including in the Kothrud Assembly seat in Pune, from where BJP State President Chandrakant Patil is contesting his maiden election.

NCP President Sharad Pawar is on a tour across the State to campaign for NCP-Congress candidates, even as State Congress leaders bank on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. BJP sources said that PM Modi and party President Amit Shah will address a series of rallies across the State.

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Published on October 09, 2019
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