Mumbai: The Maharashtra Assembly polls slated for October 21 is mainly a battle between a supremely-confident eMaha-Yuti (Grand Alliance), comprising the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena and four other smaller allies, and 'Maha-Aghadi' (Grand Front) of crumpled Opposition coalition of Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.
While the Maha-Yuti has expressed confidence that it will return to power with a bigger majority based on its eperformance' in the past five years, the Maha-Aghadi is working to wrest power from the ruling alliance, contending that it has failed on all fronts during its tenure.
The ruling combine led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is beaming because of recent grand victory in the Lok Sabha elections, in which it won 41 out of 48 seats.
Also, while the BJP-Sena alliance comes across as a cohesive unit, the Opposition appears miles away from unity.
Besides, there are forces like Prakash Ambedkar's Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi contesting all the 288 assembly seats.
There are also others - Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Vidarbha Sangharsh Samiti, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen among others e who will be competing with the Maha-Aghadi and VBA in many seats, scattering the Opposition votes.
The immediate challenges for the Congress-NCP are to retain their existing members and numbers in the outgoing house to ensure their relevance and survival before the 2024 hustings, and for the others like VBA, MNS, AAP to make a mark for their political credibility in the state.
The Opposition hopes to cash in on a so-called eanti-incumency' against the ruling alliance with major issues of farmers, the recent floods and drought in parts of the state, inflation, unemployment in rural areas-urban centres, the state of the economy, etc.
Bouyant of a perceived epro-incumbency' wave, the ruling alliance plans to whip up patriotic sentiments by drumming up the scrapping of Art. 370, as declared by both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during their recent public rallies here.
Besides, Fadnavis has painted rosy pictures of making Maharashtra edrought-free' by 2024, linking of rivers in the water-abundant Konkan region with the parched regions of Marathwada, creating a ewater-grid' to resolve the water issues permanently, the successes of the farmers' loan waiver and crop insurance, big push to urban development with modern infrastructure like a network of Metro Rail and expressways, etc.
The eMaha-Yuti' includes the BJP, Shiv Sena, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale's Republican Party of India (A), Vinayak Mete's Shiv Sangram, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha led by Mahadev Jankar and Rayat Kranti Sanghatana headed by Sadabhau Khot.
The eMaha-Aghadi' comprises the Congress, NCP, Jayant Patil-led Peasants and Workers Party, Hitendra Thakur's Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Peoples Republican Party headed by Jogendra Kawade, and the Samajwadi Party.