As results of the assembly elections in Maharashtra rolled out through the day, two political parties that looked elated and confident were Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena. Though it is more or less certain that BJP and Shiv Sena will form the next government in Maharashtra, it was obvious that almost all the exit poll predictions made by national news channels, predicting close to 220 seats going to the saffron alliance had fallen flat and the alliance actually could get just about 160 seats.
This situation has given Uddhav Thackeray a great boost and looks like he is going to bargain for a bigger share in the government and perhaps even deputy chief minister’s position for his party.
State capital Mumbai will be buzzing with political actions right through the festive season of Diwali as negotiations happen between the Shiv Sena and BJP over how power is to be shared in the next Maharashtra government. Some observers say Uddhav Thackeray could even demand half a term (two and a half years) for Shiv Sena’s Chief Minister. A clear aggressive stand by Uddhav was seen and felt by journalists covering his press conference in the evening on results day. “If Amit Shah wants, he can come to us and discuss the conditions,” Uddhav said just at the end of the press conference. The Sena looked very firm on demanding a much bigger share in the next government.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis clearly admitted that the set back that BJP received in these elections was because of the rebel candidates from both BJP and Shiv Sena. The rebellion has caused the BJP to lose at least 17 to 20 seats in the state. Apart from this the main factor which openly came to the fore was the defectors were not accepted by the voters.
Leaders such as Udayan Raje Bhosale or Harshavardhan Patil who were well established in their western Maharashtra based bastions in NCP and Congress, crossed over to the BJP thinking they would benefit because of the wave created by Modi and Amit Shah’s rallies, but they went wrong and lost their seats.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will have to ponder upon another factor in this election which is that nine ministers from his cabinet lost their assembly elections in their respective constituencies. In Marathwada, prominent faces like Pankaja Munde and Jaydatta Kshirsagar facing defeat is an unexpected shock for the party. BJP National President Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi both held rallies in Pankaja’s constituency but even that could not ensure her victory, which shows that the voters were really angry.
Next few days are going to be interesting for Shiv Sena and BJP as the negotiations start over who gets what in the new government. NCP President Sharad Pawar has made it clear that he will not stake claim for formation of government as of now. But in the coming months and years, he would surely keep his eyes and ears open to watch if there is any rift between the BJP and Shiv Sena which he can take advantage of. As predicted, it is going to be Fadnavis government once again in Maharashtra but the walk for this government is not going to be easy.