Stage set for Maharashtra elections on October 21

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on October 19, 2019 Published on October 19, 2019

Polling officials check and seal electronic voting and VVPAT machines in Thane on Friday, ahead of the Assembly elections on Monday   -  Vibhav Birwatkar

BJP banking on ‘Modi wave’; Congress-NCP fighting for survival

While the BJP is trying to get a single-handed majority on its own so that it does not require anyone’s support, even from its alliance partner Shiv Sena, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress are fighting for survival in the State politics.

With just two days to go for polling, election campaign has reached its peak in the State with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers leading the front for the BJP. Many central ministers and leaders have camped in Maharashtra to support Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. BJP’s partner Shiv Sena which is wary of BJP’s post-poll plans is trying to get maximum numbers to bargain in the post-poll scenario.

The BJP is largely banking on Modi’s popularity and dilution of Article 370. Chief Minister Fadnavis has breached the Congress-NCP’s Maratha vote bank by bringing in many Maratha satraps in the BJP. Political observers say the BJP has become a conglomeration of winning candidates imported from other parties. Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray is campaigning in the State saying that Maharashtra must have Shiv Sena’s Chief Minister. However, Sena has accepted a secondary role in the alliance and hoping to get maximum benefit of ‘Modi wave’.

NCP President Sharad Pawar is leading the Congress-NCP front, but without much help from the Congress. The Maratha strongman is fighting it all alone as many of his lieutenants including sitting MLAs have deserted him to join the BJP or Sena. There is not a single leader from the State Congress who joined Pawar’s whirlwind campaign tour in the State. All senior Congress leaders are stuck in their own constituencies. Even as Rahul Gandhi made a brief presence in the campaign, Sonia and Priyanka have preferred to keep away from the State polls.

3,239 candidates in fray

A total of 3,239 candidates are in the fray for the October 21 elections with 288 seats up for grabs. In 2014 even though the BJP fell short of the majority mark by 23 seats, it doubled its vote share compared to 2009 polls. The BJP parted its way with the Shiv Sena and won 122 seats in a five-cornered contest, registering a vote share of 27.8 per cent.

In 2014, the Shiv Sena won 63 seats compared to 33 in 2009. The BJP and the Sena joined hands to form the government as the Sena was forced to join the BJP as Pawar’s NCP which had won 41 seats unilaterally extended support to the BJP. The Congress won 42 seats in 2014 compared to 82 seats in 2009.

Even as Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is contesting elections, even the party cadre is not sure about the seriousness of party leadership. MNS decided to contest elections at the last moment.

In 2014 elections the party had won only one seat and even this one MLA later joined Shiv Sena.

“There is no opposition in the State and we will get back to power,” said Fadnavis during his rally and added that people have made up their mind to support the BJP.

The NCP President is, however, hopeful. “There will be change this time. The BJP government has failed on all fronts and it is trying to play a nationalist narrative to hide their failures,” Pawar is telling people in his meetings.

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Published on October 19, 2019
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