Rebels are expected to play a decisive role in forming of the new government in Maharashtra with exit polls and projections predicting a hung House.
Over 100 rebels are in the fray for the 288-member assembly, the polling for which was held on Tuesday.
Sixty-two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) members and 15 from the Congress entered the fray as independents after they were denied party tickets.
The two parties have been running a coalition government in the state for the last 10 years and are eyeing a third term.
Will the rebels be the game-changers? “Not at all… The Congress-NCP alliance will get absolute majority,” Congress spokesman Mohan Prakash said. The Congress will touch the three-figure tally, he said.
Votes are to be counted on October 22.
But, his senior colleague Digvijay Singh, party’s election observer for the state, had earlier admitted that the rebels would be the deciding factor.
“People have voted for Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi,” Prakash said. The Lok Sabha polls magic will rub on to the assembly elections as well, he said.
Close coordination between the government and the party, and a united state leadership will also work in party’s favour, said Prakash.
And if the alliance still falls short of the half-way mark of 144, the Congress intends to seek support of the independents, including party rebels.
‘It’s okay if the independents want to extend support to us,” Digvijay said.
It was in 1990 that the Congress had last formed a government in the western state on its own.