Marathis, Muslims, and transfer of BJP votes hold the key | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Marathis, Muslims, and transfer of BJP votes hold the key

Jun 04, 2024 09:53 AM IST

Here are a few pointers to look out for in today’s results that will be an indication whether the two stalwarts of Maharashtra politics can rise from the ashes

To say the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray and the NCP led by Sharad Pawar are facing a crisis would be an understatement. This is the first time that a Thackeray is fighting an election without the old party name and the symbol that Maharashtrian voters are so familiar with: the bow and arrow. Second, during past rebellions by Shiv Sena leaders like Narayan Rane in 2005 or Raj Thackeray’s in 2006, the BJP had the Sena’s back but with Eknath Shinde, it’s the BJP that has engineered the split and is out to demolish the Thackerays and their control over the Shiv Sena. For Sharad Pawar too the loss of his party’s symbol and the large-scale defections by the top-rung leadership have hit hard.

A disastrous result for any of the four factions of the Shiv Sena and NCP today will intensify the power struggle in Maharashtra. (HT PHOTO)
A disastrous result for any of the four factions of the Shiv Sena and NCP today will intensify the power struggle in Maharashtra. (HT PHOTO)

A few pointers to look out for in today’s results that will be an indication whether the two stalwarts of Maharashtra politics can rise again from the ashes:

Will Mumbai’s Marathi voter back the Thackeray family once again?

From our exit poll data of Mumbai South and Mumbai South Central, Sena UBT is poised to do well in the Marathi heartland of Dadar, Worli, Sewri and where the Marathi vote is split in some segments like Dindoshi and Goregaon. If the Shiv Sena (UBT) does pull off a win in the two seats of Mumbai south and Mumbai south central, it will be a big morale boost for Thackeray as it will demonstrate his hold on the Marathi heartland.

How the 2 M combination works out

Shiv Sena (UBT) may have lost out on the Gujarati and the north Indian votes of Mumbai after the split with the BJP, but it has seemingly been replaced by the Muslim vote, that constitutes over 18 per cent Mumbai’s voters. As per our exit poll in the Muslim dominated constituencies of Mumbadevi, Byculla and Dharavi 75-80 per cent of the Muslim voters have cast their vote for Thackeray’s party which is quite extraordinary considering the Shiv Sena’s tryst with Hindutva. This is possibly the first time in decades that the Marathi and Muslim voters of Mumbai have voted to be on the same side and this can influence the election outcome in at least four of the six Lok Sabha seats in the city.

Eknath Shinde's Pull Beyond Mumbai

Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena is contesting 15 seats of which five are in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. His real problems lie outside the MMR where his party has changed the sitting MP in the three constituencies of Ramtek, Hingoli and Yavatmal-Washim while the two-time MP from Nashik Hemant Godse who has been renominated faces severe anti-incumbency. It is in these constituencies that Shinde will lean heavily on the BJP’s clout to pull them through. The big question is whether the BJP can do that and whether people will accept the rebel MPs in the other constituencies will have a significant spill over effect on the assembly elections to be held in October this year. A decent tally of 6-7 seats for Shinde's Shiv Sena, if it materialises, will determine his bargaining power in seat-sharing talks for the assembly elections.

Pawar vs Pawar: What is at stake?

Going by our exit poll in Western Maharashtra, the NCP led by Sharad Pawar (NCP-SP) is likely to do better, including in the prestige battle for Baramati. If the MVA dominates the 12 seats of Western Maharashtra and of which, NCP-SP bags 4-5 seats that they are contesting there, it will create serious headwinds for Ajit Pawar, leading, in fact, to a question mark on the very future of his party.

The other question to ask is whether the alliance with Ajit Pawar, against whom they raised so many corruption allegations, has put off the BJP voter? Look no further than Khadakwasla assembly segment in Baramati for the signal... BJP led by 26 per cent in this segment in the 2019 LS polls denting Supriya Sule's victory margin. This time, our exit poll indicates otherwise. In the Daund assembly segment where there is a BJP MLA, we found a lead for Surpriya Sule, indicating that the BJP’s vote is not transferring to Ajit Pawar’s party.

A disastrous result for any of the four factions of the Shiv Sena and NCP today will intensify the power struggle in Maharashtra and make the October assembly elections and even more fraught affair.

The writer conducted exit polls in 8 of the state’s 48 constituencies

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