NCP emerges the new face of Opposition in Maharashtra
The NCP is likely to secure 54 of the total 117 seats it contested. It means, the party was able to register victory on 46% seats it contested, against its ally Congress that contested 146 seats and was able to get a maximum of 44 seats.Updated: Oct 25, 2019 08:03 IST
A month before the Assembly polls, most political analysts considered the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) “dead and buried”, holding the results would “only confirm it”. Even senior Congress leaders like Sushil Kumar Shinde publicly urged Pawar to merge the party with the Congress, claiming both the parties were “tired”. But Thursday’s poll results showed the NCP still retains influence, especially in western and central Maharashtra. The surge in its tally has even made it the main Opposition party, dwarfing its ally, Congress, for the second time since 2004, when the NCP had won 71 seats and Congress 69 seats.
The NCP is likely to secure 54 of the total 117 seats it contested. It means, the party was able to register victory on 46% seats it contested, against its ally Congress that contested 146 seats and was able to get a maximum of 44 seats.
The party’s performance is impressive, considering the mass exodus and its struggle to boost the morale of party workers. In May this year, it lost the contest against the BJP-Shiv Sena in the Lok Sabha elections, but managed to keep its tally of four seats. In the next few months, it lost many of its prominent faces, apart from eight of its sitting MLAs. If this was not enough, a sitting Member of Parliament Udayanraje Bhonsle resigned from the position only to join the BJP.
In the struggle for existence, the party regained its lost ground in its erstwhile bastion of western Maharashtra, where it was leading on 27 seats of the total 70 seats at the time of going to press. It had won 19 seats in 2014. In Vidarbha too, it got six seats, five more from the last Assembly elections. In north Maharashtra, the party got six seats from its last tally of five. In Konkan region, it got five seats, including two from Thane district. This surge in its tally is expected to come as a big boost for the party which appears to be struggling for existence in the run-up to the polls. “Both of us [Congress and NCP] were expecting around 60 seats. It would have helped us reach close to the majority figure of 145 seats, as we have also supported a few independents, who won the polls,” said NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
“In such an odd situation, reaching this tally, too, is a big thing for us. I am happy that people supported the NCP wholeheartedly, especially the youths. The results are also an example that people dislike misuse of power,” he said, targeting the BJP.
Political analysts, too, believe the NCP will now emerge as a strong regional party, which has more say than the Congress. “The NCP will be the face of the Opposition in Maharashtra. It will have a leader of Opposition position in both the Houses — legislative Assembly and legislative Council. It will also try to replace the Congress in the coming years, but remain with it, as the result shows that the Congress votes are intact even now,” said Abhay Deshpande, political analyst.
“We have now come to a position where we can struggle to remove the BJP-Sena government in the next five years. There were talks that the NCP will disintegrate, but it didn’t happen. In fact, we are close to the Shiv Sena that has got 56 seats. Considering the understanding between both the parties — Congress and NCP — the situation will further improve,” said NCP spokesperson Sanjay Tatkare.
Ajit Pawar wins with highest margin
NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who was contesting from Baramati, won with the highest margin in state. He defeated his rival candidate Gopichand Padalkar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by 1,65,265 votes. Pawar got 1,95,641 votes while Padalkar got 30,376 votes. With this landslide victory, Pawar has been elected as Baramati MLA for a sixth consecutive term. Gophane Avinash Shahaji of Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi came in third with 3,111 votes.