As the election dates were announced on Friday, two major questions started to do the rounds: who will come to power and who will become the next chief minister of Maharashtra?
The main battle is between two alliances - Congress-NCP and BJP-Sena – but none of the four parties have announced their chief ministerial candidates.
It will be decided post-elections.
It is also possible that the two main parties in the winning alliance will share the post for a certain period.
Neither the BJP, which did exceedingly well in the Lok Sabha polls, nor the Congress, whose leader is the state chief minister, have declared their contenders. Though there are some indications and subtle projections.
Going by the trends in the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP-Shiv Sena is in a better position to win the polls.
The Sena has been projecting Uddhav Thackeray as its CM candidate without officially declaring his name because of the compulsion of its alliance.
BJP chief Amit Shah has indicated that the party will contest the elections under state president Devendra Fadnavis. Hence, it is assumed that Thackeray and Fadnavis are the probable CM candidates of the respective parties.
If the Sena gets the post and Thackeray sticks to his family’s tradition of not taking any post in the government, he may choose Subhash Desai.
The BJP, however, will have some serious power struggle within the party over the post. Though Modi-Shah duo has indicated that they will prefer Fadnavis, sections in the state unit are jittery about it. They think factors such as caste and experience should be considered while selecting the person to run the government.
“It is going to be a tough call. On one hand we have experienced people like Nitin Gadkari, who was a popular minister during the Sena-BJP rule and regarded as a leader with vision. On the other hand, we have Vinod Tawde and Eknath Khadse, who represent majority communities such as Marathas and OBCs respectively. Getting these communities on our side will be crucial in state politics,” said a key strategist of the party. “But it is also important to get a young and promising face to make our government popular,” he added.
Even Congress has refrained from announcing whether Prithviraj Chavan will be its CM candidate. The party has put up a collective leadership of CM, former chief ministers Sushilkumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan and Narayan Rane and state Congress president Manikrao Thakre. Each of them will stake claim to the post if party returns to power.
If the NCP manages to win more seats than Congress, the obvious choice of the party will be deputy CM Ajit Pawar.