It's a bittersweet win for BJP & Sena in Maharashtra— fewer seats to take and larger egos to battle
- BJP-Sena combine win 161 seats, Congress and allies win 98 and others in 29.
- Sharad Pawar comes back from the shadows to drive his party NCP to better-than-expected performance.
- The seat sharing and negotiations will get tougher after Sena has made its stance of equal sharing, clear.
While the results came as per expected, it did not match the sky high expectations of poll pundits and other experts. A few exit polls even predicted over 225 seats for the BJP combine but NCP make a comeback under the active campaigning of Sharad Pawar who did not contest in this election himself.
"Those who have rebelled have not done well," commented Pawar speaking to the media today. The 78 year old put up a tough fight by campaigning extensively even during rains, even as he was being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate. In fact, a large number of MLAs and other assemblymen had quit the party right before the elections.
Shiv Sena too won more seats than expected in 48 constituencies. It is now all set to make a significant contribution to the Maharashtra government.
"We (Amit Shah and himself) have agreed on a portfolio number and we expect to stick to that," said Uddhav Thackeray speaking to the press today. His son Aaditya Thackeray won his first election in the Worli constituency with over 25,000 vote margin.
Sena's better than expected win could cause cracks in the fragile bond between the coalition partners, as Sena might now seek a higher representation in the ministry. Poll analysts believe that Sena might now propose a rotational chief ministership and even the deputy chief minister's post.
The vote share percentages over the last assembly elections however remained on similar lines.
|2019 vote share||2014 vote share|
Maharashtra was once a Congress stronghold but few remember it to be so. Even fewer debate the ability of the ruling Sena-BJP government to come into power. In fact, all the discussion is around the number of seats that the ruling government will win. A few exit polls even predicted that it will cross 220 out of the total seats of 288.
These numbers are mostly based on how the state voted in for the Lok Sabha elections. But in spite of being dubbed Maharashtra’s Modi, the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis a debutante has a new set of problems. For one, a lot has changed since Modi came into power—and not for the better. The country is growing at a slower pace, and many industries like the auto sector have come to a grinding standstill.
The state contributes around 12% to the country’s GDP with its capital also being the country’s financial capital. It also bears the worst of the ongoing slowdown. The state’s cultural capital isn’t doing too well either as Pune’s auto component and manufacturing sector is at the receiving end of job crisis.
But the Fadnavis government has done what few states could—in the last five years—reduce its debt by around 9%. Moreover , the state’s fiscal deficit also reduced slightly. The government also claims to have kickstarted many irrigation projects that remained stalled during the Congress rule. In fact, NCP supremo’s son Ajit Pawar was the center of a massive irrigation scam in the last decade. But, the ruling government said that it brought 13 lakh hectares of land under irrigation during the tenure.
But not all farmers are happy. Though they are being able to produce more, they are unhappy with the government’s attitude to minimum support prices. In fact, not one but two large protests were taken up by farmers as they marched from Nasik to Mumbai seeking a bailout package along with price support. Sharad Pawar who is not contesting this time around but campaigned extensively, took it up as a poll issue.
In-fighting with Sena
The state government has faced many internal headwinds as well. The allies Shiv Sena and BJP are not up in arms. This alliance was forged before Modi came into power in 2014 when few knew that BJP would have a far-reaching mass appeal. At the central level too, BJP as a party is getting stronger and its local Saffron cousin isn’t too impressed with the treatment.
BJP is also turning a lot more assertive in the state. It has put its own candidates to fight in Sena strongholds of Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindudurg—which are traditional Sena bastions. In a ludicrous manner, BJP calls it a ‘friendly fight’.
Sena party chief Uddhav Thackeray is not impressed. Shiv Sena which was formed by his father, Bal Thackeray, is formed on deep rooted connections with the soil and takes pride in it. A national level party wrenching control of it, hurts it at many levels. In a rare interview, Uddhav said that being second fiddle is not what he has in mind for his party. He even said that he forsees a time when a Sena candidate would be the CM, and his more ambitious son—Aditya Thackeray —is also making his debut in politics.
This infighting might break the vote as people doubt the long-term prospects of the alliance going ahead.