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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Lok Sabha elections 2019: Maharashtra win for Sena, BJP; State poll next

The opposition Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance, which had hoped to stage a comeback after winning just six seats in 2014, could not do any better this time around.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: May 24, 2019 08:20 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Mumbai
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra won 41 of the state’s 48 parliamentary seats, a victory that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis described as “unprecedented”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra won 41 of the state’s 48 parliamentary seats, a victory that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis described as “unprecedented”. (Vijyaanand Gupta/HT)
         

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra won 41 of the state’s 48 parliamentary seats, a victory that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis described as “unprecedented”.

The opposition Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance, which had hoped to stage a comeback after winning just six seats in 2014, could not do any better this time around.

The Congress won just one seat in Vidarbha, and that, too, was brought in by a former Shiv Sena MLA, Suresh Dhanorkar, who had moved to the party just before the polls. Sharad Pawar’s NCP won four seats, more than in 2014.

Pawar, however, could not ensure a win for his grand nephew, Parth Pawar, for whom he had decided not to contest from Maval.

“I accept the verdict of the people. We will have to work more aggressively to expand our base,” Pawar said as the results rolled in on Thursday.

For the BJP-Sena, the results of the elections come as a boost ahead of the state assembly elections that are due in just about five months.

The Congress, on the other hand, faces the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding the morale of their workers.

Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Agadhi (VBA), a platform of Dalits, Muslims and a section of the other backward classes (OBC) won just one seat in Aurangabad but successfully upset potential wins of the Congress-NCP.

The VBA affected results in eight, including the two seats lost by two former chief ministers, Ashok Chavan (Nanded) and Sushilkumar Shinde (Solapur). In both seats, VBA candidates polled more than 100,00 votes each.

The VBA factor also highlights one of the biggest failures of the Congress-NCP alliance. Despite announcing a tie-up in 2018, and planning to bring together at least 10 smaller parties on a larger anti-Modi plank, the two parties could not get any Dalit leader with influence to work with them.

Further, infighting in the Congress-NCP affected the poll campaigns in Ahmednagar, where the NCP’s refusal to part with the seat, led senior Congress leader, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil’s son, Sujay, shifting allegiance to the BJP. The BJP dropped its sitting MP, Dilip Gandhi, to accommodate Vikhe-Patil, who emerged victorious.

The parties were also unable to win the confidence of people already angered by the farm issues and a severe drought, particularly in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.

The Congress’s internal bickering, meanwhile, resulted in the party’s Mumbai chief, Sanjay Nirupam, being replaced before the polls. State president, Ashok Chavan, had to finalise candidates but also faced opposition within the party.

Beyond the Opposition’s mistakes, the one-sided results point to the triumph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal across urban and rural constituencies. It’s also a win for the BJP’s electoral strategy, starting with securing a tie-up with its sulking ally, Shiv Sena, by accepting the Sena’s long wishlist, including an equal seat-sharing agreement in the assembly polls.

“I had been saying through the polls there is a silent wave in favour of Prime Minister Modi that will turn into a tsunami,” Fadnavis said on Thursday. “The middle-class and the poor, across urban and rural areas, were enthused to vote for PM Modi. As Modi ji said, there is pro-incumbency in the country. Today’s landslide and unprecedented victory proves this,” he said.

Sharad Pawar said the results could have been different if Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief, Raj Thackeray, put up candidates in the polls. The Congress refused to align with the MNS, fearing alienating the Hindi-speaking voter. While Raj Thackeray campaigned for the Opposition, and his rallies drew substantial crowds, they had little impact.

First Published: May 24, 2019 00:16 IST

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