In Maharashtra: Devendra Fadnavis, Presidential polls and 145 seats
Of course, all is not hunky dory for Fadnavis. His challenge will be to deliver on his promises made to people which is more difficult than political mamagement.mumbai Updated: Jul 24, 2017 23:43 IST
For the BJP government in Maharashtra, especially chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, the presidential election was about getting as many votes as possible for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind.
It, however, turned out to be more than that.
Kovind got 208 votes --- at least 13 more than assured ---on the basis strength of the ruling BJP, its ally Shiv Sena as well as smaller parties and the Independents.
The repercussions will be significant.
The first and direct impact of the outcome is going to be on the Congress-NCP led Opposition. It went on the back-foot as these 13 votes came from the Opposition legislators, especially the Congress-NCP camp. This is the first time since he took over that Fadnavis has managed to show that he has a chunk of Opposition MLAs ready to help him if needed. Since 2014, when he became chief minister, Fadnavis, as well as the BJP were claiming that several Opposition MLAs were ready to cross over to the other side if needed. The outcome of the Presidential polls in Maharashtra shows that it was not a hollow threat: the Opposition is vulnerable to poaching.
The second and indirect impact will be on the relations between the BJP and the Shiv Sena. The BJP managed to get 145 votes in addition to the Sena’s 63. The number has significance on the assembly floor. It is the magic figure to win a simple majority in the house of 288 members. It may not mean that the BJP currently has 145 legislators on its side, but is a clear statement. Fadnavis went on record to say that the BJP-Sena alliance will complete five years in office together but he has given a signal to the Sena leadership that it is possible to run the government without the latter’s support and as such, the ally should not stretch matters too far.
There is yet another outcome of the elections and that matters more in the internal power equations within the BJP. Kovind got the highest votes from Maharashtra after Uttar Pradesh. This has now strengthened Fadnavis politically. After showing his election management in the civic polls, in which the BJP emerged on top, he has now shown his political management. He has reaffirmed his position as the strongest BJP leader in Maharashtra. His importance may grow at the national level now, much to the annoyance of the Nitin Gadkari camp.
Unless something major happens, he is likely to complete his tenure comfortably (And unless of course, he is given a key responsibility at the Centre which his close aides are ruling out as of now).
Of course, all is not hunky dory for Fadnavis. His challenge will be to deliver on his promises made to people which is more difficult than political management.
It is also clear now that the Opposition in Maharashtra is still a demoralised lot. If a significant number of Opposition legislators are resorting to cross-voting, it means that they are unhappy or not hopeful about better prospects with their current parties. The Opposition leaders will need a stronger strategy and lot of hard work to make their parties a formidable force to take on Fadnavis in 2019.