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Maharashtra dumped leaderless Congress

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Battleground in Maharashtra was all set between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, the Maharashtra general elections brought forward a shocking picture for the Congress party. While the NCP-Congress alliance is struggling to take control over three seats, Congress seems to have almost vanished from the picture. It also marks a major setback for the regional parties like Raj Thackeray-led MNS who supported and campaigned for Congress in the recently concluded elections. On the other hand, BJP-Sena even after a rocky relationship, patched up before polls, joined hands, strategised a 25-23 seat-sharing plan, and swept the election results.

Gajanan Kirtikar, the Shiv Sena challenger to Congress’ Sanjay Nirupam in Mumbai North-West constituency spoke to Afternoon Voice and said, “Our victory was evident and the upcoming assembly polls too will choose the BJP-Sena alliance in the power.”

The trends that were visible in the first half of the day evidently indicated that Congress is going to lose it big in the state of Maharashtra. While initially, it failed to maintain a lead in any of the 48 constituencies in the state (the lead in Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri stayed for just a while), the day ended with the party hardly having any seats from Maharashtra to voice in the Parliament. Veteran Congress leaders like party strongman and Maharashtra Congress Committee President Ashok Chavan, Priya Dutt, Sushilkumar Shinde left no hope for the party. While Chavan managed his hold on Nanded seat in 2014 Modi wave but he failed to retain it in 2019.

Congratulating Modi, Shah as BJP leads in poll trends, Maharashtra CM Fadnavis boasted about the BJP-led NDA’s performance and said that ‘Modi wave’ became tsunami this time.

Congress secured only around one seat in the state — Balubhau secured his Chandrapur seat. On the other hand, Congress’s alliance partner NCP too failed to show any significant grip. Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule marked her victory in Baramati, a seat which is a Pawar family bastion for long and Pawar himself has held the seat for more than three terms. Sunil DattatrayTatkare from Raigad, Udayanraje Bhonsle from Satara, and Amol Ramsing Kolhe from Shirur managed to secure their seats. The candidature of Pawar’s grandson Parth from Maval received much criticism and he lagged behind Shiv Sena’s Shrirang Barne.

‘Gracefully’ accepting the people’s mandate, NCP supremo Pawar said, “I accept people’s decision but this is also a fact that people had their doubts about EVMs. Congress had performed really well in Rajiv Gandhi’s time, but nobody doubted elections then, same when Atal Bihari Vajpayee won.”

The landslide victory for the saffron alliance has touched its 2014 performance when it secured 41 seats — BJP’s 23 and Sena’s 18. The alliance is all set to take over around 41 seats in the Lok Sabha elections 2019 in the state. Star campaigners of Congress in the state such as Urmila Matondkar lost against BJP’s Gopal Shetty who won the seat with more than 5 lakh 38 thousand votes. Congress’ Mumbai President Milind Deora, who as a candidate was endorsed by Business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, attracted more votes than Matondkar but he lagged behind in the battle with 2 lakh 63 thousand votes against Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant who led the game with more than 3 lakh 40 thousand votes.

What acted as the major stumbling block on Congress’ way in the state? Leadership crisis, internal politics, and internal fights are believed to be the cause of crisis by political observers which sabotaged the party prospects in the state. While veteran Congress leaders were nowhere seen actively into the campaigning in the crucial poll season couple with a weak narrative of the party, BJP contrarily was with full of cash flow and smart strategies. Moreover, shuffling of seats and introduction of newbies into politics like Urmila Matondkar against strong BJP contenders ignoring the good vote shareholders are looked at as the reason behind the political collapse of the country’s oldest political party. Post results, Congress’ Mumbai North Lok Sabha candidate Matondkar said that even though she has lost her maiden election, she won’t quit politics and she has a long way to go. She also congratulated Gopal Shetty and told the reporters, “We have noticed discrepancies in EVMs, we have prepared a report on it that we will submit to Election Commission at the end of the day.” Even MNS chief Raj Thackeray termed the landslide victory of the ruling party as “beyond rationale” and “incomprehensible”.

Taking Ashok Chavan into account, who ruled the state for 10 years, the grassroots level reflects how people lost faith in him. Another veteran Sushilkumar Shinde already lost his connection from the state. All these led to many young supporters of Congress including Priyanka Chaturvedi giving up on the party. It is majorly accepted that the outcome of the State Assembly, which is all set to go to the polls later this year, could have a major bearing after this LS results.

When Afternoon Voice contacted Sushilkumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, they remained unavailable to comment on the results.

Senior advocate Abha Singh asserted, “Most of the Congress candidates in Mumbai were a complete disconnect. No wonder all lost. Overhaul in Congress is need of the hour if they want to be in the reckoning in 2024.”

“Nationalism, Beneficial Schemes for Rural India, Electricity generation increase in North India, crores of Toilets constructed etc. has led to a sweeping victory for BJP. Uniform Civil Code, scrapping of Article 370, Triple Talaq Law, Women Reservation Bill are some of the positives I am looking forward too.

With elections over, I am hoping that mad hysteria on divisive issues will die down. May peace prevail!” she added.

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