When you push that button on your electronic voting machine today, you won’t just be voting in the new government.
You will also be determining which of the new faces at the top make it, and which don’t. Down to the wire
In young, increasingly urban Maharashtra, major parties are passing the baton at the state level to the next generation.
For the Congress, the man of the moment is 50-year-old Ashok Chavan; in the Shiv Sena, it’s founder Bal Thackeray’s son Uddhav (49) and in the Nationalist Congress Party, founder and chief Sharad Pawar has handed over to nephew Ajit (50).
Chavan has been the Congress’s post-26/11 hero, rescuing the ruling combine from the disgrace of the four-day terror siege.
As Chavan, the son of a former Maharashtra CM, took over from Vilasrao Deshmukh, he upped the party’s rankings and led the party to a win of 17 seats in the national election held earlier this year. If the combine wins the state election, he will likely stay on as CM.
The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, is now in the hands of executive president Uddhav Thackeray. With his ailing father unable to campaign, Uddhav has taken on the pre-poll planning and strategising and reached out to voters across the state himself.
This election will be a test of his organisational and leadership skills.
In the Nationalist Congress Party, Ajit Pawar has been handling party affairs in the state for a while. An impressive victory for the party will confirm his leadership position, especially after his party’s defeat in the recent Lok Sabha polls; a loss will undoubtedly dent it further.
“This is a crucial election for these three leaders and could be a turning point in their careers,” said political analyst and psephologist Uday Nirgudkar. “It will give them a chance to prove their credibility and gain acceptance within their parties as chief ministerial candidates.”