The politics in Maharashtra is more personally driven than in any other state. The leaders command the loyalty of constituents and the voters identify with leaders rather than party or ideology. So, the individual leaders who are trusted by the voters of a region are very important. These individual leaders change the party depending on the popularity of the party and the number of votes they can amass in the name of the party.
As the Maharashtra Assembly election nears, the popular leaders of the NCP and Congress party are moving to BJP-Shiv Sena camp. “Some 50 MLAs of Congress and NCP are in touch with the BJP. Senior NCP leader Chitra Wagh had expressed her desire to join BJP a month back, claiming she had no future left in her parent party. The MLAs are requesting that they wanted to join the BJP ahead of the assembly elections…The Congress is in the shambles and in the next couple of weeks, the NCP will look weaker,” said BJP leader and Maharashtra Water Resources Minister, Girish Mahajan.
NCP’s Mumbai unit chief, Sachin Ahir has already joined Shiv Sena. Chitra Wagh, prominent women face of NCP, former minister and president of the women wing of the party has also quit the party. Another senior NCP leader and MLA Vaibhav Pichad has expressed the desire to join BJP. “Very soon I will formally join the Bharatiya Janata Party,” said Pichad. He also told the voters that CM Fadnavis has promised that the problems in his constituency will be solved very soon.
The Navi Mumbai unit of NCP has been led by senior leader and former excise minister Ganesh Naik. The Navi Mumbai corporators from NCP urged Naik to join BJP. Given the fact Naik has a very strong presence in Navi Mumbai region, NCP will be wiped out of the region if he joins BJP. “A sizable number of corporators on Sunday held a meeting in Navi Mumbai and appealed to Sandeep Naik to join the BJP ahead of assembly elections. If that happens, the BJP will not only gain a strong candidate, but it will also come into power in the civic body as well,” said a source close to the developments.
It is not only NCP which is losing its senior leaders to BJP-Shiv Sena, but many senior Congress leaders are also in talks with the ruling alliance to join them. Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, the Leader of Opposition and one of the most powerful leaders of Congress party joined BJP last month. As per sources, Jaykumar Gore, Kalidas Kolambkar, Nitesh Rane and Bharat Bhalke might join BJP very soon. “Nationally, the Congress is in such a state of disarray without a leader that it has no time to look at what is happening in the states. We are aware that 7-8 leaders are looking to defect and a few senior leaders in Maharashtra have been trying to hold talks with them,” a senior Congress leader who did not wish to be named said. “Some are disillusioned about the future of the party and want to jump to the BJP for their own political careers,” s/he added.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is very popular among the voters of the state as well as the elected leaders. He has implemented development-oriented policies in the last five years and tried to reform the agriculture sector and the economy of the state. He is perhaps the only leader who is seeking next term not based on freebies but the reforms taken by his government. It is very likely that BJP-Sena will come back to power with a bigger mandate.