Lok Sabha elections 2019 phase 4: BJP-Sena hope to repeat thumping win in Maharashtra
The last 17 of Maharashtra’s 48 Lok Sabha seats will vote on Monday, with political heavyweights, their family members, and Marathi and Hindi film actors in the fray.
Squabbles between alliance partners Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Maharshtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray’s anti-BJP campaigning in the state have made this an eventful election so far.
Last year, the Shiv Sena decided to go it alone in all future polls, but in February this year, the party made a U-turn by announcing an alliance with the BJP. A seat-sharing deal, under which the Sena would contest 23 seats and the BJP, 25, was sealed.
The alliance, which is 25 years old, is currently in power in Mahrashtra. State elections will be held later this year.
In the 2014 elections, the alliance won 41 of 48 seats (The BJP lost one seat in a bypoll held for Bhandara-Gondia seat in 2018). It remains to be seen whether the alliance will repeat its performance. Of the constituencies going to polls, 12 are in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), which includes Mumbai city, Thane and Palgarh. In Mumbai north, actor Urmila Matondkar, who joined the Congress earlier this month, faces BJP MP Gopal Shetty. In 2014, Shetty had defeated then sitting MP Sanjay Nirupam by 446,000 votes. In Mumbai north central, Poonam Mahajan, the BJP youth wing president, confronts Congress’ Priya Dutt, whom she defeated by a margin of over 160,000 votes in 2014. In Mumbai south, Milind Deora of the Congress — who was recently endorsed by industrialist Mukesh Ambani — is taking on sitting Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant.
In a surprise move, the BJP dropped Kirit Somaiya although the sitting MP of Mumbai north east defeated incumbent Sanjay Dina Patil, of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), in 2014 by over 300,000 votes.
Although his party is not in the fray in any seat, MNS’ Raj Thackeray has been holding election rallies especially in Maratha-dominated constituencies, exhorting people to not vote for the BJP. However, Thackeray — cousin to Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray — does not seek votes for the Congress-NCP alliance.
Political analyst Pratap Aasbe said the seats up for grabs in the fourth phase are the most significant because heavyweights are in the race. “It seems difficult for BJP-Sena combine to retain all the six seats of Mumbai,” he said.