Maharashtra goes to polls on Wednesday, where the break-up of the two major alliances has thrown the political contest wide open with five major parties in the fray.
Like in any state, there are two kinds of voters in Maharashtra – those living in urban areas in some of the most developed cities of India and those living in villages with poor agricultural infrastructure.
A closer look at the results of the assembly elections in 2004 and 2009 in the rural districts reveals that Congress has increased its seat share in rural Maharashtra while the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) rural vote bank has taken a hit.
Urban vs rural
For the purpose of this report, five urban districts - Mumbai, Mumbai (suburban), Thane, Nagpur and Pune - with the least rural population were considered. Five rural districts of Gadchiroli, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Gondiya, Satara with the most rural population were also looked at.
Let us take a look at how these 10 districts voted in the past two assembly elections.
The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance got the highest share of seats from urban Maharashtra in both the elections. But their share declined in the last elections due to the impact of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
However, the biggest surprise was in rural voting: the seat share of Congress improved by 18 percentage points in the most rural areas of Maharashtra in the 2009 when compared to 2004.
The BJP, which broke its two-decade old alliance with Shiv Sena this year to go alone, has actually seen its seat share in rural areas decline by 2.5 percentage points in the 2009 elections when compared to 2004.
With the recent victory in the national elections and the promise of development, can the BJP score better in rural Maharashtra?
This report originally appeared on IndiaSpends' website