Threat of hung Assembly looms large | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Threat of hung Assembly looms large

After 14 years, the state politicians are faced with uncertain times ahead of the Assembly poll results to be declared on Thursday, reports HT Correspondent.

mumbai Updated: Oct 21, 2009 18:54 IST
HT Correspondent

After 14 years, the state politicians are faced with uncertain times ahead of the Assembly poll results to be declared on Thursday. Few senior leaders, when asked in private, were unsure of winning a clear mandate though some of them claimed in public that their parties would form the next government.

The prime reason behind politicians’ shaken confidence is the restructuring of segments after delimitation of 288 seats and its impact on local political equations. Several strong aspirants rebelled either because their respective denied them official candidature or because their segments were allotted to the alliance partners.

Little wonder then why concerned politicians and experts expect a hung Assembly. The fact that in absence of strong issues most contests revolved around personalities in that particular regions give credence to the projection.

In a similar situation in 1995, the state saw a record number of independents and rebels, almost all from the unified Congress triumph. A majority of winners helped the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance form their first-ever government. This time, rebellion has spread out to the saffron parties as well.

Political expert Uday Nirgudkar said that not only rebellion but also the emergence of smaller yet influential parties like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) would impact the results of the October 13 poll results in big way.

“My own study says that Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nasik which have 96 seats will decide the next government because MNS has great connect with the voters of these areas,” said Nirgudkar.

Nirgudkar was very clear in saying that the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance would win more seats than the saffron front. “The Congress-NCP will enjoy better bargaining power than the Sena-BJP when it will come to taking the rebels and independents in their fold.”

The Congress and NCP expect more rebel winners to join them because majority of them were associated with the Congress-led front before being expelled on disciplinary grounds. They are being lured with all kinds of promises like the cabinet berths and top political positions in lucrative corporations.

Experts feel that the Sena-BJP would have its share of rebels but very less in numbers.

Though Nirgudkar did not specify any numbers, the Congress said it would win more seats than last time (69). “I’m confident that the Congress will emerge as the single largest party,” Chief Minister Ashok Chavan told media on the eve of result day.

State NCP chief R R Patil was equally confident. “We were the single largest party in 2004 (71 seats) and we expect to get even more (than 2004),” Patil said, adding that the Congress might walk away with more seats than his party.

Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray has been profuse in saying that the saffron alliance would get an absolute majority. The BJP leaders didn’t show any drop in their confidence levels.

Yet, the two major alliances are keeping in touch with smaller parties _ the MNS included _ to gain adequate numbers. Other significant players on their radars are _ Jansurajya Shakti Party and Swambhimani Shetkari Sanghatana that together are expected to win about ten seats in western Maharashtra.

Some strong constituents of the Third Front like Peasants and Workers Party and unified Republican Party of India (barring the Gavai group) would open their cards once the results are out Thursday.

Region wise, the Congress expects to gain in Mumbai and Vidarbha, the NCP in western Maharashtra and Marathwada, the Sena has its eyes on Marathwada and western Vidarbha and the BJP rests its hopes on Vidarbha and parts of northern Maharashtra.