The Maharashtra Assembly election date has been announced and the parties are campaigning aggressively. BJP-Shiv Sena, the governing coalition of the state is yet to decide seat sharing, but they are expected to strike a deal very soon. The state is set to got to polls with BJP and Shiv Sena on one side facing Congress and NCP and probably also with Raj Thackeray’s MNS joining the UPA cause.
The opposition led by NCP and Congress has already struck a deal and both parties will be contesting on 125 seats each. In the 288 assembly constituencies, they have kept 38 seats for other allies. Though the NCP-Congress alliance has announced the seat-sharing, it seems the parties are no longer in a position to fight against the mighty BJP-Shiv Sena machinery.
In the last few months, more than a hundred prominent leaders crossed the benches to join the ruling coalition. BJP National President- Amit Shah famously said that if the party opens the door for opposition leaders, Sharad Pawar would be the only leader left with NCP.
Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, the Leader of Opposition and one of the most powerful leaders of Congress party joined the BJP a few months ago. NCP’s Mumbai unit chief, Sachin Ahir has already joined Shiv Sena. Chitra Wagh, prominent woman face of NCP, former minister and President of the women wing of the party had also quit the party.
“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.
Congress and NCP are suffering from an existential crisis in the state. The coalition could win only 6 out of 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in the general elections. With Sharad Pawar out of the scene due to health issues, the coalition does not have a single popular leader in the state.
The politics in Maharashtra is more personality-driven than in any other state. The leaders command the loyalty of the constituents and the voters identify with leaders rather than with 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.
Devendra Fadnavis over the past few years has emerged as one of the most effective Chief Ministers in India, giving his critics a run for their money. Maharashtra, for the last 5 years under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis has witnessed massive steps forward in several critical domains like Agriculture, Water Resources and others. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is extremely 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. Fadnavis has also crafted an image of clean development-oriented leader among the voters, in a similar way that PM Modi did in Gujarat when he became the CM of the state.
Maharashtra, under the leadership of CM Devendra Fadnavis in the state, has seen positive trends towards the execution of several development schemes. Vidarbha, a region of eastern Maharashtra, which had been on the back seat of Maharashtra’s political agenda for a long time, has taken the spotlight after an unprecedented development in the region following the emergence of BJP government in the State.
The BJP-Shiv Sena coalition is expected to easily defeat other parties owing to the popularity of Devendra Fadnavis and the Congress-NCP led opposition being in disarray.
The politics of Maharashtra has been dominated by corruption in the last few decades. Given the clean track record that Fadnavis government has followed in the last five years; it is going to easily defeat the anti-incumbency in Maharashtra.