It’s an uncertain time for Maharashtra’s politicians. Though exit polls indicate that the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance will beat the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party combine, many politicians privately admitted they were unsure of a clear mandate.
The alliances are negotiating with smaller parties and rebels, whom they may need to swing it in their favour, once the results are declared on Thursday.
The key reason for the uncertainty is the restructuring of Assembly constituencies -- parties don’t know how the new constituencies will vote.
There are other factors: the large number of rebel candidates, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Third Front, which means the contest is not just between the Congress-NCP and Sena-BJP.
Political analyst Uday Nirgudkar said: “My study says Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik will decide the next government as the MNS has a great voter connect in these areas.”
Publicly, both camps say they will win. Sena strategist Subhash Desai said: “It’ll be our V-day.” “We are 100 per cent confident the Congress-NCP alliance will return,” said Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
A day after Chhagan Bhujbal’s demand that Congress split the chief ministership with NCP, the issue seems to have been sorted out. “The next Maharashtra CM will be from the Congress,” NCP chief Sharad Pawar said.