It’s been a reversal of fortunes for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The 2009 Assembly poll results indicate that the decade-old party will now have to play the second fiddle to its ally in the state, the Congress.
The NCP won 60 seats, 11 less than its tally of 71 in 2004.
In the last election, the NCP had also emerged as the single largest party in the state and managed to bully the Congress into handing over vital portfolios like Finance, Power and Home in the state Cabinet.
In exchange, the Congress got to keep the chief ministerial post.
This time round, the Congress has emerged as the largest party, leading with 82 seats.
“The NCP is in no position to bargain for important portfolios or call for a rotating chief ministerial post,” said veteran journalist Aroon Tikekar. “The party won as many seats as it did largely because people voted for continuity, not because they performed well. They could have fared better but were plagued by infighting and rebels.”
As Tikekar pointed out, the party of sugar barons had the highest number of rebels contesting the election — one of the reasons why it couldn’t even match its last score in the party bastion of western Maharashtra.
The NCP won 20 seats here, down from 25 in 2004.
The party’s votebank in urban areas was also dented by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which won over some of its young voters.
The MNS and NCP won 8 seats each in the Mumbai-Thane belt. “The MNS factor has hurt not just the Sena but also the NCP and Pawar has admitted as much,” said political analyst Surendra Jondhale.
The party leadership maintained that they were satisfied with their performance in the polls.
“We contested 112 seats this time and won 63; in 2004 we contested 124 and won 71. Our performance is satisfactory... we could have done better,” said NCP spokesperson Govindrao Adik.