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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

Maharashtra Assembly Election 2019: BJP-Sena upbeat, Oppn looks to stay afloat

Political observers say while a win for the BJP-Sena now is a given, all eyes are on the victory margins and the seats the Congress-NCP retain.

assembly-elections Updated: Oct 23, 2019 09:50 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
The BJP-Shiv Sena combine is hoping to secure majority in Maharashtra assembly. Counting of votes will take place on October 24, 2019.
The BJP-Shiv Sena combine is hoping to secure majority in Maharashtra assembly. Counting of votes will take place on October 24, 2019.(PTI)
         

With all exit polls predicting a clear win for the saffron combine in Maharashtra, the mood in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena is upbeat.

The BJP-Sena is hoping to secure two-thirds majority in the 288-member Assembly on October 24, when the results are announced.

The Opposition, too, has not given up hope, with the Congress-NCP expecting to win 100-110 seats.

Political observers say while a win for the BJP-Sena now is a given, all eyes are on the victory margins and the seats the Congress-NCP retain. The extent of the win and losses will decide whether Maharashtra emerges as a single-party dominated state after 25 years of coalition politics.

The ruling party has been hoping to secure 135+ to 140 seats on its own in the state Assembly, which would eventually make its ally, Shiv Sena, irrelevant. However, to win 135-140 seats of the 164 seats it contested, the BJP will need a strike rate of around 82% to 85%. A section within the BJP has been a bit wary of such a strike rate since voting on Tuesday.

“The poll percentage in certain constituencies shows a bit of a contest in a section of constituencies. The rebels in around 35 seats could also spring a few unpredictable results. The India Today-Axis My India poll survey which was on the dot during the Lok Sabha polls has predicted a lower tally for us. In any case, we expect to win around 130 seats,” said a senior BJP leader.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had however told HT in an interview last week that his party would get 135-140 seats.

The Sena is gung-ho about its poll prospects, with the party hoping for its best-ever tally in Maharashtra so far, at around 85 seats.

The Sena had contested 126 of the 288 seats, including two seats where the party had put up official candidates against the BJP. The highest number of legislators the Sena sent to the Assembly was 73 in 1995, when it formed a government in coalition with the BJP.

Sena leaders have rubbished exit poll surveys where the Uddhav Thackeray-led party is shown getting fewer seats than its existing tally. “The exit poll figures have given the alliance a comfortable victory. Some exit polls have given the Sena 102 seats and in some exit polls, it is around 85. We will give our best performance in the past 25 years. We will send the maximum number of legislators to the House this time,” said Neelam Gorhe, Shiv Sena deputy leader.

However, the voter turnout in certain seats contested by the Sena has dropped compared to the 2014 Assembly elections. In Pachora, from where Sena youth wing chief Aaditya Thackeray, started his Jan Aashirwad Yatra in July, the turnout dropped by 8% in comparison to 2014 state polls. In Nanded district’s Loha constituency, the turnout dropped to 64.71% from 75.21% in 2014. Similarly, voter turnout has dropped by 5% to 6% in Parbhani, Jalna, Aurangabad Central and Aurangabad West seats. Party leaders said although the voter turnout was lower on some of its sitting seats, it is unlikely to dent their chances.

“I don’t think the exit polls are realistic. We are doing quite well in Vidarbha and will gain sizeable seats there. Pawarsaheb has received good response to his rallies and districts in Western Maharashtra have registered high voting percentage. We will score from this region,” said Balasaheb Thorat, Maharashtra Congress chief. “In Ahmednagar district, the Congress-NCP will win at least 7 of 12 seats. As per our internal assessment, the Congress-led combine will win 100 to 110 seats,” he added.

The NCP is looking at a seat tally of 7-50 seats, seven-nine more than its tally (41) in the 2014 polls. Both the Congress and NCP had lost at least 15 sitting MLAs to defections ahead of the elections. But both the parties claimed this would not make too much of a difference.