State of mind: Lok Sabha done, Assembly next in Maharashtra
The election will be held for 288 seats of the state Assembly, with the end of the five-year tenure of the current Assembly. In the state where two regional parties along with two national parties are the fray, the election will be significant for the future of parties such as the Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party.Updated: May 01, 2019, 08:39 IST
Although the conclusion of the fourth phase marked the end of Lok Sabha elections in all constituencies in Maharashtra, the task is far from over for political parties and their leaders in the state. A bigger battle awaits them within six months – the Maharashtra Assembly election is scheduled to be held between September and October.
The election will be held for 288 seats of the state Assembly, with the end of the five-year tenure of the current Assembly. In the state where two regional parties along with two national parties are the fray, the election will be significant for the future of parties such as the Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party.
In the 2014 Assembly elections, all four prominent parties contested separately. The BJP won 122 of the 288 seats, thanks to the impact of the Modi wave, and emerged as the single largest party. The Sena came second with 63 seats, while the Congress and NCP were reduced to 42 and 41 seats, respectively. The BJP fell short of 23 seats for simple majority of 145, but formed the government being the largest party in the state Assembly. The NCP gave it unconditional support from outside. Within six months, the Shiv Sena joined the government and the BJP-Sena alliance government had a strong government in the state in terms of numbers.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress-NCP came together again and formed a coalition with smaller parties. The BJP-Sena, too, buried the differences and formally forged an alliance.
As such, the coming Assembly elections will see a fight between two coalitions again, after 2009.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who played a crucial role in forming the BJP-Sena alliance, is aiming to return to power. He has started preparations by taking key Opposition leaders into the BJP fold to increase the party’s tally. The Opposition Congress-NCP is determined to wrest the power in the state, where they ruled for three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2014.
The contest in the Lok Sabha has already made the battlelines clear. “The results of the general polls will show how both the sides are placed in the contest. It will form the basis for our assembly poll strategy,” said a key BJP functionary, who is part of the team that is preparing strategy for the party.
In 2014, the Congress and NCP got just two and four Lok Sabha seats, but in the Assembly their combined tally was 83. The two parties are now expecting to win around 20 of the 48 seats. If that happens, their confidence will get a boost.
On the other hand, if the BJP-Sena manages to retain more than 30 seats, it would find itself in a better position to retain power. “We are banking heavily on the discontent among various classes, including the rural population. The outcome of Lok Sabha elections will give us an idea how to chalk out our strategy,” said a top Congress leader.