May 30, 2019 2:16:23 am
Going by the Lok Sabha results in Maharashtra, the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena combine have a clear lead in 233 out of the state’s 288 Assembly seats. The Congress and NCP together are ahead of the saffron parties only in 44 seats. The state is scheduled to go to polls around September-October this year.
In the 2014 Assembly elections, the Congress had won 42 seats, and the NCP 41. The two parties had contested separately as did BJP and Shiv Sena, which won 122 and 63 seats, respectively.
Interestingly, in this Lok Sabha polls, the BJP led in 121 Assembly segments, one less than its 2014 tally, while the Shiv Sena dominated in 112 Assembly segments — 49 more than the seats it has in the current Assembly.
From the numbers, it appears that it is the Sena that has benefited from the Congress-NCP debacle. The Opposition allies have managed to keep their lead slightly above 20 seats each as compared to their 2014 Assembly tally. The Congress is down in 21 segments, and the NCP in 18.
The smaller parties together led in 11 Assembly seats. It included AIMIM (2), Yuva Swabhiman Party (4), Bahujan Vikas Party (3), Swabhimani Party (1) and Maharashtra Swabhiman Party (1). Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, which polled 41 lakh votes across 48 seats and played a decisive role in the defeat of seven Congress-NCP candidates, did not dominate any segment. Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha and 288 Assembly seats. Every Lok Sabha seat has six Assembly segments.
The Lok Sabha results need not replicate themselves in the Assembly elections. But dominance in an Assembly segment could enhance the electoral prospects of that party at the state elections, and is a morale booster for the cadres, particularly if the lead has been wrested away from another party.
Though Lok Sabha and Assembly elections are contested on different strategies and planks, leaders across Sena-BJP and Congress-NCP, after preliminary discussions, have indicated they will continue their alliances for the state polls.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took the first initiative to reach out to Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray to reassure him of the saffron alliance in the Assembly polls.
A BJP insider said: “The central and state leaders have already promised an alliance with Sena.
Therefore, they will ensure its enforcement with some give and take. The possibility of BJP and Sena settling for a seat-sharing ratio of 55:45 cannot be ruled out.”
The halfway mark for the state Assembly is 145 seats. If the BJP has to get absolute majority, it will have to contest at least 150 plus seats.
A Sena leader said, “Going solo is ruled out after the Lok Sabha polls. But Sena is likely to retain its demand for 50:50 seat-sharing arrangement.”
At the district party review meet after the polls, Fadnavis urged the cadre to take up the challenge to ensure that the BJP-Sena together cross 230 in the House of 288 seats. The party has decided to focus on 55 Assembly segments where it failed to win in the Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress-NCP has also held its first meeting promising to bring like-minded allies together. Party leader from Vidarbha, Nitin Raut, said: “We will have to build the organisation from scratch. We have to get back to street politics and build the party… Our party president Rahul Gandhi’s message of harbouring no hatred for anybody is significant. At the same time, revival of party is a daunting task but not an impossible mission.” The Congress-NCP’s failure to hold their bastions has come as a rude shock to the cadre. From senior leader Sushil Kumar Shinde in Solapur to state Congress chief Ashok Chavan in Nanded, stalwarts faced a rout in the Lok Sabha polls.
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