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Saffron surge crushes Cong-NCP alliance
The BJP and Shiv Sena, riding high on the Modi wave, gave a spectacular performance winning 41 of the total 48 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha in Maharashtra. The outcome showed that the Congress-NCP alliance’s attempts to play the secular and Maratha reservation card was rejected by the people who sent a strong message of change in Maharashtra.
The victory of former chief minister Ashok Chavan (Nanded) and Rajiv Satav (Hingoli) was the only solace for the Congress, which failed to retain its traditional bastion in tribal Nadurbar. Former minister Manikrao Gavit’s defeat in this tribal belt is also an indicator to how the people in the state have rejected the Congress.
The BJP, with 23 seats, emerged a leading party followed by its alliance partner Shiv Sena (18 seats). The saffron combine created a record in electoral history, culminating in a complete rout for the Congress that managed to retain just two seats. NCP president Sharad Pawar’s party almost halved its own tally, winning just four Lok Sabha seats. The lone seat won by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana’s sitting (MP) Raju Shetti taken into account ups the tally of BJP grand alliance to 42 seats in the state. Maharashtra emerged the second-largest state after Uttar Pradesh (64 seats) to help the party cross the magic figure of 272 seats at the Centre.
The deep inroads of Modi factor saw the established leaders across Congress and NCP facing worst defeat in the hands of Sena and NCP. A classic case in point was the defeat of union home minister Sushikkumar Shinde in home turf Solapur in Western Maharashtra. In Vidarbha, minister for heavy industries Praful Patel was in for a rude shock as he lost to BJP’s Nana Patole. Union minister Milind Deora (Mumbai South) or Priya Dutt (Mumbai North Centra) lost to relatively low profile candidates Arvind Sawant (Sena) and Poonam Mahajan (BJP).
The entire elections across Vidarbha (10 seats), Western Maharashtra (10 seats), North Maharashtra (Eight seats), Marathwada (Eight seats) and Konkan (Mumbai/Thane) 12 seats were marked by an element of surprise, which has left the ruling combine reeling. In a candid admission, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said, “The Congress has miserably failed in the Parliament polls.” NCP president Sharad Pawar admitted, “The victory of BJP and Sena in Maharashtra was very impressive.”
The NCP which won only four seats – Baramati, Madha, Kolhapur and Satara – raises the question on the role of Sharad Pawar in national politics. The fact that Pawar’s daughter , Supriya Sule, had to sweat it out on home turf in Baramati to retain the seat has come as a rude shock to the NCP leaders, who concede there is public anger against the party leaders. The impressive win of BJP leader Gopinath Munde in Beed, where Pawar had made it a prestige issue, also came as a setback. A jubilant Munde said, ” The result in my favour shows politics of arrogance, caste and corruption will not be tolerated by people in Maharashtra.”
The region-wise results across party lines show that people have risen above the caste and class to vote for Modi in Maharashtra. This was evident in the manner in which 36 seats clearly dominated by rural population have given a stupendous mandate in favour of candidates fielded by Sena and BJP.
State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said, “The absolute majority to the BJP lead alliance in Maharashtra is an outcome of Modi’s ‘tsunami’, which completely wiped away the Congress and NCP. The results show people reposed their complete faith in the leadership of Modi.”
Interestingly, Maharashtra which has 14 constituencies with Muslims vote base of 14 to 20 per cent and 12 constituencies with Dalit vote base between 16 and 25 per cent, also failed to check the Modi march in their respective regions.
Dalit writer Arjun Dangle, “There was a clear shift of Dalits from Congress and NCP base, giving huge advantage to BJP grand alliance. The BJP’s alliance with RPI laid the pitch that helped Modi to exploit the situation to saffron combine’s advantage.”
The absolute majority to BJP alliance in the state also highlights the serious electoral reverses suffered by the MNS which failed to play the role of ‘vote spoiler’ to enhance Congress and NCP electoral fortunes. The MNS, which fielded nine candidates, was reduced to a non-player managing to poll less than two per cent votes. Similarly, the Aam Admi Party made no impact.
THEN & NOW
Total Tally: Lok Sabha 2014
BJP (23 seats); Shiv Sena (18 seats); Swabhinami Shetkari Sanghatana (one seat)
Congress (Two seats) and NCP (Four seats)
Total Tally : LoK Sabha 2009
BJP (nine seats), Shiv Sena (11 seats)
Congress (17 seats), NCP (Eight seats), Sawabhimani Shetkari Sanghata (One seat) and Others/Independents (Two seats)