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Mahagathbandhan in Maharashtra?

BJP’s victory in the Gujarat assembly polls will have an impact on politics in Maharashtra. The state is likely to witness a mahagathbandhan on the lines of Bihar as Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress may join hands against BJP. The Gujarat poll verdict has already boosted the confidence of Sena as the party has praised Congress president Rahul Gandhi for leading from the front which enabled the party to improve its performance in Gujarat. Sena also stated that Rahul threw himself into the campaigning arena without worrying about the final outcome of polls.

Last month, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee raising speculations in political circles that Sena is keen to have alliance with parties from other states too. In 2016, Sena had teamed up Trinamool Congress to criticise the demonetisation policy of the Modi government. The party is also cosying up with NCP. NCP President Sharad Pawar had earlier stated that Uddhav Thackeray had met him to discuss about the state of politics in Maharashtra. Sena has always been known for expressing its displeasure against the functioning of BJP through its mouthpiece Saamna. On the other hand, the road ahead looks tough for BJP as it will have to take steps to improve its relation with Sena which had often hinted at quitting the government.

Parag Alawni, BJP MLA said, “Prior to the Gujarat assembly polls, various leaders had said that BJP will win around 135 to 140 seats. This time opposition party had resorted to negative campaigning by making personal remarks against our leaders. Congress had outsourced the campaigning process of Gujarat polls to NGOs. Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani don’t belong to political background but they are associated with Congress. Political parties have been trying to malign PM Modi’s image but they didn’t become successful.”

Ashok Jadhav, former Congress MLA said, “Congress is keen to stitch alliance with like-minded parties to gain political foothold in the state. On the other hand, BJP resolves grievance of smaller parties ahead of election and gives too much importance to them. I personally feel that Congress will join hands with NCP and Samajwadi Party. We can also bring Shiv Sena on board by resolving differences with them.”

Arvind Bhosale, Shiv Sena spokesperson said, “Residents of Maharashtra are unhappy with the functioning of BJP government. Shiv Sena has always raised the issue of farmer suicides. We are campaigning and connecting with voters. Uddhav Thackeray will take a decision pertaining to having alliance with other parties. The government has failed to fulfil the promises made by it to people hence, we are expanding our foothold in Konkan, Marathwada and Western Maharashtra. We will raise the issue of farmers not getting minimum support price for crops.”

Jayant Patil, NCP MLA said, “Modi had held various rallies in Gujarat to connect with voters still the party was unable to win the election convincingly. After this verdict, BJP will have to do some rethinking about how to contest future state assembly polls. Mahagathbandhan is possible in Maharashtra too if various political parties come together to contest election against BJP.”

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