Around half way through the poll counting, political situation arising in Maharashtra and Haryana has certainly provided a different picture from what most analysts had predicted in the run up the state assembly elections. While the BJP led NDA seems to be emerging as the single largest political force in both the states, the path to government formation is certainly poised to be bumpy. Nonetheless, the biggest take from the trends is certainly the re-positioning of opposition parties who despite being written off by many, have evidently managed to keep their head above water.
In Maharashtra, out of the total 288 assembly constituencies, BJP is currently leading on 100 seats of with its alliance partner Shiv Sena leading on 60 Seats while in the opposition camp NCP is leading in 55 AC’s and the Congress on just 45 seats. Though trending numbers for the Congress are falling near its tally of 42 seats last assembly elections for the NCP however the current trends indicate a certain improvement in public perception for the Sharad Pawar led party which had to suffice with just 41 assembly seats in the 2014 state elections. After the embarrassing defeat in the 2019 general elections these assembly elections were being looked at as nothing short of an existential battle for the Congress and NCP, several senior leaders from the opposition had also jumped ships taking note of the situation in their parties. However, both the parties have evidently managed to avoid further erosion of their public support.
In Haryana however the picture is turning out to be more in favour of the opposition parties, with the BJP, which was being pitched to sweep the assembly polls, just currently leading on 37 seats much short of the majority mark of 45 seats. The Congress has certainly benefited from the political situation with leading on 34 seats, more than double of their tally of 15 in the last election. Jannayak Janta Party, the breakaway faction of the INLD is also emerging at the critical position where it can play the kingmaker with a lead on 10 seats.
Trends in both these critical states certainly indicate towards the resilient nature of Indian politics while issues of slow economic growth, mismanagement at ground level organisation, overconfidence of the ruling side might have also played a part. In case of Maharashtra and Haryana, BJP’s lack of star campaigns was quite visible.
Various by-polls being conducted in other states are also indicating towards the same trend of the opposition giving a credible fight to the BJP. In Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua assembly seat, Congress’ Kantilal Bhuria is leading BJP rival by 15,873 votes. Even in Gujarat, out of 6 assembly seats, Congress is leading on 4 and BJP on 2.
While opposition plays a critical part in a functioning democracy, Indian opposition parties over the past few years have been continuously on the back foot, other than a few electoral victories here and there, the opposition camp has been largely ineffective in countering the might of the BJP.
With these probable trends, upcoming elections in several states are surely poised to provide with different political outcomes than being expected by many. For the BJP however, their performance in Haryana certainly calls for deep introspection. Despite the state being functioning on caste dominated politics for long, BJP under the leadership of ML Khattar had successfully managed to breakthrough with their development agenda but evidently has missed out on the political nerve of the state.