State polls in M'rashtra?
Encouraged by exit polls that show the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) combine making major gains in the parliamentary elections, the Maharashtra government is considering dissolving the state legislature ahead of schedule.
According to informed sources, Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, NCP president Sharad Pawar and other senior officials have discussed the matter after results of the exit polls Monday.
Should the final results end up similar or better than the exit poll outcome, the government may proceed with the dissolution of the state legislature ahead of its term.
A decision on the matter is expected after the budget session in three weeks.
The legislature's term ends only in the closing weeks of October.
It is, however, not clear if the Maharashtra government will challenge precedents and hold polls during the monsoons.
Exit polls show the alliance crafted by the two parties bagging more than half the 48 Lok Sabha, lower house of parliament, seats in Maharashtra.
They show the alliance partners bagging between 20 and 30 seats in the elections, which concluded in the state Monday.
The grouping includes the Congress, the NCP and three factions of the Republican Party of India.
Till the Lok Sabha elections, the ruling parties in Maharashtra were said to be on the defensive following the alleged involvement of top ministers in the fake stamp paper racket masterminded by Abdul Karim Telgi.
Maharashtra's deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal had to quit after the scam broke and Mumbai's former police commissioner Ranjit Sharma is still in jail for his alleged links with Telgi.
A severe drought in the state's hinterland was also said to have alienated the farmers against the ruling party.
But the ruling alliance members feel that the election strategy crafted by NCP chief Pawar, which took into account the caste factors across the state, seems to have worked.
Going by the exit polls, the secular parties' high-pitched campaign to shift responsibility of the state's woes on the central government also seems to struck a chord.