Assembly elections in Karnataka and its outcome are being watched keenly by the main players in Maharashtra’s political theatre.Developments in the neighbouring state will be taken into consideration by the four prominent political parties in the state while working out their plans for the next two significant elections, Lok Sabha and the Assembly — whether they are held together or separately. For the ruling BJP, good news is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma is still working to get the votes. In Gujarat, Modi retained power single-handedly while in Karnataka, his campaign was a major factor why the BJP could emerge as a single largest party by winning over 100 seats. The response Modi has got in both neighbouring states has put smiles on the faces of BJP leaders in Maharashtra. Of course, failure of the party to form a government in Karnataka has dampened their spirits to some extent. On the other hand, the way the Congress and Janata Dal (S) came together to prevent the BJP from winning power in Karnataka will boost the efforts to bring Opposition unity in Maharashtra. Leaders from both parties have already started the process to forge an alliance for the coming elections. For both parties, the outcome in Karnataka has underlined the need for the same if they want to wrest power from the BJP in the key state. Further, there could be attempts to take parties like the Peasants and Workers Party, Samajwadi Party and JD(S) on board. Such a coalition could help the Congress-NCP alliance to win an extra 10-15 seats, which could prove crucial in a close contest.BJP’s permanently unhappy ally Shiv Sena has expressed happiness over the party’s failure to win power in Karnataka. Its mouthpiece Saamana has taken potshots at its ally’s failed effort to form a government by luring Congress-JD (S) legislators to its fold. This also means Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is still in no mind to mend fences with the BJP even as the opposition parties seem to be moving in the direction of forming a UPA-like coalition along with the Congress.They are unlikely to invite the Sena to join such a formation considering the latter’s political ideology. Still, Uddhav Thackeray could be a key factor in next assembly elections. His decision will decide the nature of contest. If he decides to forge an alliance with the BJP, there will be a direct fight between two alliances. It could be a tough fight. If he sticks to his guns and goes solo, there would be a triangular fight and the Congress-NCP may have an upper edge. According to BJP insiders, the party’s top brass has started preparations assuming both possibilities. The party is cautious about the response of the rural areas considering the problems faced by the farmers and a sense of unhappiness. They think a good monsoon will change the mood. However, their concentration is likely to be urban and semi-urban constituencies. Out of 288 assembly constituencies in Maharashtra, roughly half are in urban, semi-urban areas where the party thinks it can do better. The urban voter is still influenced by Modi. Besides, the Fadnavis government has paid attention to building infrastructure projects in most cities of the state. This would give the party an edge, feel the insiders. They also say Fadnavis can manage to get Thackeray on board. If that happens, the saffron combine may swing it. However, in case of a triangular contest, things may be unpredictable.If such a contest throws a hung house, will Uddhav Thackeray be in a position to be a kingmaker? Or will he become a king like HD Kumarswamy?