iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ketaki Ghoge, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, May 16, 2014
The wipeout of the Congress-NCP alliance in the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra could result in the loss of the sole big state in its kitty in the coming assembly polls in October. With just four months to go for the state elections — the first polls after BJP’s astounding win -- there is every possibility that the saffron combine will win the state after sitting in the opposition for 15 years in a row. The BJP-Sena won a whopping 42 out of the 48 seats, with 2 other seats going to its allies. If the trend continues, the saffron combine can easily get around 225 seats out of the 288 seats, way past a clear majority.

The Congress-NCP tally has come down from 25 seats in 2009 Lok Sabha polls to the single digit of six seats. At two seats, the Congress has posted its worst electoral tally.

“It’s unlikely that people’s sentiment against the Congress will change in the coming four months. Also, with Modi secure at the Centre, he will focus his energies on winning the state. The Congress-NCP also faces anti-incumbency of three terms and people are fed up with the bickering coalition government they have offered. The odds are in favour of Sena and BJP coming to power in the state,” said political analyst B Venkatesh Kumar. 

Sena’s impressive 20-seat win and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) failing to even play a spoiler in these polls will further cement the Sena-BJP alliance. 
If there’s any silver lining at all for the ruling alliance, it’s that they have a breather of four months to get their act together. The state government, for now, is secure, with the NCP not in a position to offer any support to the BJP and unlikely to topple the government.

The Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar’s party may even have to struggle for survival in the coming months, if it faces similar losses in the assembly polls. “The Congress can be without power for five or even 10 years. We are a regional party, we can’t survive that long without power,” said a NCP minister.

He added that the party was looking at two options: to contest assembly polls solo to ward off anti-Congress sentiment or to stick with the Congress but demand more seats. Political observers have offered a third option for the NCP, that it might consider merging with the Congress.