Shiv Sainiks, who seemed upbeat and confident of a win till Sunday, wore a worried look after the exit poll results projected a trend favouring their former ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Results emerging from four different exit polls conducted by news channels on Wednesday predicted that the BJP will emerge as the single largest party in Maharashtra, and may even get an absolute majority by winning anywhere between 124 and 151 seats.
They predicted that the Sena will come in second with about 56 to 77 seats.
Sena leaders are hoping that the polls are wrong and that party chief Uddhav Thackeray’s belief that he will be the next CM comes true.
And if they do come close second, the Sena is hoping that the BJP doesn’t get more than 105 seats, which will force the parties to join hands to form a government.
If the BJP gets an absolute majority, the relation between the two parties will get further strained, with the Sena forced to sit in the opposition.
This is the first election that the Sena is fighting on its own following the breaking of its 25-year-old alliance with the BJP.
Thackeray launched a tirade against the BJP on the issue of identity, and even took on PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
However, according to Sena sources, the exit polls have not affected Thackeray, who is still confident of forming the government.
“Uddhavji is completely unfazed by this and has told his senior leaders to prepare to sit in ministerial cabins. He has told us that such polls are fabricated,” a senior Sena leader said.
“The ground realities of this poll are far different from what the exit polls are showing. We have got feedback from every region that shows that we are leading. There is no question of supporting any other government or sitting in the opposition,” said Sena MP Anil Desai.