The anti-incumbency factor, rising farmers suicides and price rise notwithstanding, voters in Maharashtra have chosen to give the Congress-NCP alliance another go at governing the state for a third straight term.
Of the 269 results declared so far, the ruling combine has bagged 131, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance 87, MNS 13, Republican Left Democratic Front 12 and others 26.
The Sena-BJP leaders are attributing their loss to the Raj Thackeray-led MNS which made its maiden foray in the 288-member House.
"We lost because MNS ate into the traditional Shiv Sena votes," BJP general secretary Gopinath Munde said.
As Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has made it clear that it will not stake claim to chief minister's post, the process of government formation is likely to get speeded up, a senior Congress leader said.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, in race for the top job, said the ruling alliance's performance was due to the dynamic leadership of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and team work by Congress-NCP combine.