Performance by the current state government will be the decisive factor when Maharashtra goes to polls on October 15.
And the one thing that stands out in the past five-year rule of the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance, is the intense rivalry between the coalition partners, policy paralysis and the sceptre of corruption charges against DF ministers, especially the NCP.
The government’s performance was not a complete washout with the Chavan-led administration handling crisis such as drought and hailstorms efficiently. Social indicators such as child sex ratio, malnutrition figures were brought down, several infrastructure projects in Mumbai were completed.
But will the government’s just passable performance help the ruling alliance?
Unlikely, say political analysts, because too little has been done by the Congress-NCP government to reap any benefits in the upcoming polls.
The trouble started early for the Congress with the Adarsh scam in 2010, which led to the resignation of former CM Ashok Chavan.
Prithviraj Chavan, the technocrat politician, who was sent by the party leadership to clean up the party in the state, got his task done. Mr Clean, as Chavan is known in the corridors of power, kept realtors at bay (for most part of his tenure) and cleaned up the messy administration by reviewing a host of flawed urban development policies. But, he was a little too overcautious in clearing new ones.
His political prowess came from pushing his aggressive ally NCP, led by Sharad Pawar, in to the corner, over cooperation sector and the irrigation scam.
Political and government analysts feel Chavan’s big success was also the ruling government’s big failure.
“There was so much that the government could have done for development in the state. These infrastructure projects such as Mumbai Metro and Eastern Expressway were commissioned by former CMs. Chavan failed to clear even one big project during his time. The politics of coalition and his slow decisions came at the cost of the public interest,” said political analyst Pratap Asbe.
Analyst Uttara Sahastrabudhe termed the government performance as strictly passable.
“Law and order was dismal, especially crimes against women’ and atrocities against Dalits. While infra projects were completed, there is no vision or planning for urban Maharashtra. And, bickering between allies and corruption charges overshadowed the government’s performance,” she said.
So, even though Chavan was clean, his government and administration was not. Seventeen new flyovers were built, but big-ticket projects remained in limbo.
The law for housing regulatory authority was passed, but the government failed to set it up. The state remains tops in industries, but it has failed to create more jobs.
Economist Ajit Ranade said there were parallels between the UPA 2 and DF government, where corruption and grid lock in decision-making clouded the government’s performance.
“The state has retained its strong position in the industry, investments and even ranks number 5 on the Human Development Index. But though our aggregate economic indicators are good, the intra-state disparity is dismal. Maharashtra is losing its edge,” he said.