Several minor parties are unable to get themselves assimilated into the two grand alliances in Maharashtra, led by the BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP combines respectively, might not have much of an impact in the April-May Lok Sabha polls, believe analysts.
Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats, the second highest after Uttar Pradesh’s 80, and will see four phase voting on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.
Among these, the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, has already opted out of the Lok Sabha polls, planning to concentrate on the Assembly polls later this year to stay relevant in state politics.
The Aam Aadmi Party is also in two minds about jumping into the Lok Sabha battle with its state chief Sudhir Sawant claiming he was waiting for orders from Delhi (central leadership) on poll participation in Maharashtra.
The Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party, like their Uttar Pradesh counterparts, have tied up in Maharashtra and the latter’s state in charge Ashok Singh said his party would contest four seats while the BSP would field candidates in 44.
Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and the AIMIM, led by Asaduddin Owaisi, have come together to form the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) and its vote-snatching impact is likely to be felt in a few seats by the Congress-NCP alliance.
The VBA is contesting in all 48 seats of the state, with Ambedkar trying his luck from Solapur constituency.
An upbeat Ambedkar said, “We are going to make our presence in state politics in a big way. About 50 per cent of the voters (comprising Dalits and Muslims) are with us. All other parties, be it the NDA or the Congress-NCP combine, are fighting for the rest 50 per cent.”
While the VBA wanted retired High Court judge B G Kolse Patil to be fielded from Aurangabad seat in alliance with the Congress-NCP, a lack of agreement nixed the plan.
“There was no point in going with the Ambedkar-led VBA, because it is going to help the BJP-Sena alliance,” said Justice (retired) Kolse Patil, also national general secretary of the Janata Dal (Secular).
The Republican Party of India (Athawale) is with the NDA though the BJP-Sena refused to heed its chief Ramdas Athawale’s request for a Lok Sabha seat from Mumbai.
Other major RPI factions, like the People’s Republican Party headed by Jogendra Kawade and the Republican Party of India (RPI Gavai) have joined the Congress-NCP grand alliance comprising 56 political outfits.
The Swabhimani Shektari Sanghatana will fight two Lok Sabha seats in partnership with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, including in Hatkanangle held by its chief Raju Shetti.
The Communist Party of India (CPI), once a force to reckon with in the country’s commercial thanks to its sway in unions across industrial sectors, has this time failed to forge an alliance with the Congress-NCP.
The Left outfit plans to field candidates in Parbhani and Shirdi Lok Sabha seats.
“Only the Congress-NCP alliance can pose a challenge to BJP and Sena. Though we failed to ally with the Congress, we would want the Congress-NCP to win. Except, of course, in the two seats we are contesting,” veteran CPI leader Prakash Reddy told agencies.
An outfit like the recently-launched National Women’s Party (NWP) is struggling to even find candidates thoughts its chief Swetha Shetty told agencies that it will fight from 10 seats in the state.
Political observer Prakash Bal Joshi said smaller parties would have minimal impact in Maharashtra and the main fight would be between the BJP-Sena and Congress-NCP alliances.
“These smaller parties will not play any major role in the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra. At most, they might help their respective fronts add some votes,” Joshi said.