Expectations in the Congress-NCP alliance that they would manage to win seats in double digits in Maharashtra, improving their 2014 tally of 2+4 have been shattered.
The Congress, which used to consider Maharashtra its fortress, has been all but routed in this Lok Sabha election (it has slender leads in a couple of places), and its chief ally in the state, Nationalist Congress Party, may just manage to hold on to its previous tally of four – though not the same seats – and, with luck, perhaps add one more to it
The Congress is far behind even in the two seats it won in 2014 – Hingoli and Nanded. Two former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Sushil Kumar Shinde are trailing.
The NCP will retain its Baramati stronghold, where party chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule is ahead of her rival from the BJP. In Maval, Parth Pawar, the son of Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajith Pawar, is trailing by a massive number of votes.
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The alliance has clearly taken a hit from Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi in several places, with margins in some constituencies suggesting that the VBA had cut into Congress votes. The VBA and AIMM were in a pre-poll alliance, and the AIMM’s candidate in Aurangabad is ahead.
The opposition alliance was banking on the perceived anti-incumbency against the BJP government in the state, and infighting between the BJP and Shiv Sena at the ground level during the campaign, plus the agricultural distress in the state to deliver them at least 18-20 seats. Both Congress and NCP had claimed that the two parties were working with more synergy this time than in previous elections
However, these issues – agricultural distress, unemployment, the negative fall out of demonetisation – seem not to have made any dent at all in the BJP’s standing. Both BJP and even Shiv Sena ran a campaign that was focussed only on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, national security. The issue of national security, and the state government’s projection of its achievements on the infrastructure development appear to have trumped all other issued.
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