If Sunday’s results to the state assembly polls 2014 reflect what a majority of exit polls have predicted, one could see the BJP emerging as the single largest party in the state, wresting over 120 seats after 25 years.
The last time any party won over 100 seats in state polls was in 1990 when Congress had won 141 seats in the 288-member-house.
For the last 15 years, state politics has been dominated by four political parties -- the two national parties, BJP and Congress and the two regional players, Shiv Sena and NCP. As a result, the mandate has been splintered four ways.
If BJP wins a decisive mandate, it could mean a reversal to single-party dominance in Maharashtra, which many voters look at as a positive development for the state.
However, if the results are contrary to the exit polls, the state may see the emergence of a regional front, a coalition of the NCP, Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
The 15 years of Congress-NCP government saw an uneasy alliance, with state government shifting its goalposts at the cost of petty politics. Even before that, the 5 years of saffron alliance government was marked by inter-party rivalry and politicking.
“There is little doubt that BJP wants to ideally finish off the Shiv Sena. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking at single-party dominance in the state and the country,’’ said Surendra Jondhale, political analyst and professor of political science at Mumbai University.
Political observers and sources within the BJP believe that even though Sena is a natural ally, BJP will avoid an alliance and try to reach majority with the help of independents and MNS.
BJP will use the five years in power to spread its base in the state that houses RSS headquarters and cut other parties especially the Sena to size. This could spell doom for both the regional parties, with NCP and Sena leaders most likely to switch over to the BJP.
However, many political observers have not yet ruled out a result contrary to the exit polls with Sena occupying a string second position in the results.