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HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014

Maharashtra: Tough for Cong-NCP to return to power

Shailesh Gaikwad, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, June 08, 2014
First Published: 23:31 IST(8/6/2014) | Last Updated: 10:53 IST(9/6/2014)

After the debacle in the Lok Sabha elections, the ruling Congress-NCP alliance is facing a tough assembly election in which retaining power would be very difficult for them.

The BJP-led coalition, after winning 42 out of 48 parliamentary seats in the state, is planning to wrest power from the Congress after 15 years.

Considering the voting pattern in the Lok Sabha elections, Maharashtra could slip out of the hands of the Congress and its ally NCP but the recent developments — sudden death of senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde and Raj Thackeray projecting himself as chief ministerial candidate — may change some political calculations.

In LS polls, the Congress suffered its worst defeat in the state once regarded as its bastion. It could win only two seats as against 17 in the 2009 polls while its ruling partner NCP managed four.

Read: Cong-NCP ministry in Maharashtra expanded; two inducted

Analysis shows the BJP-led coalition candidates led in 248 of the 288 assembly segments under the state’s 48 LS seats. Going by this trend, the BJP-Shiv Sena could win more than 145 seats — simple majority mark — to end Congress-NCP’s 15-year reign.

The BJP-Sena combine was upbeat after its best ever performance in Maharashtra during the LS elections.

However, there is some worry in the camp due to Munde’s death — the BJP’s face in Maharashtra. Munde was a mass leader and excellent orator who had mobilised OBC voters for the BJP. He knew caste equations well and used to play a crucial role in candidate selection. This could become a problem for the BJP in the coming elections.

On the other hand, Raj Thackeray’s plan to launch a Narendra Modi-style campaign by projecting himself as the chief ministerial candidate has left the BJP-led coalition wondering whether its calculations would get affected. Unlike the LS elections when the Modi factor negated MNS’ influence on voters, Raj may damage the Sena-BJP’s chances in Mumbai-Pune-Nashik belt that has about 100 assembly seats, fear the saffron camp leaders.  

Several leaders from both Congress and NCP think that they have an opportunity to retain power due to MNS and Munde’s absence.

However, there is unease in the Congress. Several legislators were expecting major changes in the state leadership structure which did not happen. They blame CM Prithviraj Chavan and state Congress president Manikrao Thakre for LS poll debacle and want corrective measures ahead of assembly elections. Some of the unhappy legislators are sending feelers to BJP for assembly tickets.


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