Maharashtra polls: All dramas and melodramas

Finally everything stopped, when Maharashtra minister and senior Congress leader Narayan Rane announced the first list of the party’s candidates for next month’s assembly polls would be announced on September 25 and he backed continuation of alliance with NCP. On the other hand, BJP president Amit Shah and Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray indulged in much showboating throughout the week, but it seems that they are interested in fighting together. Voters in India generally vote for a political party and they never vote for candidates. They have a foolish idea that they should cast their vote for same Jaat-Paat, language, religion or similar idiotic basis or family.

There is speculation that if the BJP dumps the Sena to contest the state elections, an unshackled NCP might not be averse to joining hands with it in the state. In the run-up to the national elections earlier this year, leaders of the two parties seemed to share warm vibes. The survey, conducted before the BJP’s by-poll disaster, gave the alliance a comfortable majority with 210 seats, of which the BJP would get 122 seats and the Shiv Sena just 82 seats. However, if there is no alliance, the Shiv Sena stands to win just 62 seats. Voters will not vote to any regional parties who failed to deliver virtuous all over countries and are working against national interests for sake of individual interest of their leader. These individual leaders are grossly misusing power for self-development rather than thinking for welfare of people. The glaring examples are UP, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Punjab, J&K etc where individual leaders are controlling regional parties and have no internal democracy.

BJP is a national party. It has the responsibility towards other small parties like the RPI, SSS to take them under the NDA umbrella. However, the Shiv Sena has been negotiating considering only the BJP and SS. Scaring the BJP to go alone, by breaking the 25 years old friendship, will fetch nothing but cause a kind of rupture, and when it comes in the public domain, wrong signals are sent. The issue is trust; Shiv Sena does not trust the present Maharashtra leaders in BJP. Mahajan and Munde were great leaders whom Shiv Sena blindly trusted because they worked in the interest of both parties and had strong ties with national leadership. However, the present state BJP leadership is just dummy of national leadership and can’t take any decision of its own. There is no love between Maharastrians and Gujaratis if you remember the events of Hutatma Chowk. Also the way senior leaders in BJP, the Tamil fishermen and Haryana Vikas Party have been treated by this leadership has made Shiv Sena very cautious.

Congress was in a clump in Delhi to assess its options in Maharashtra with partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) putting it on notice for seat sharing. Top Congress leaders met at party president Sonia Gandhi’s residence; Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan also attended the meeting. Sharad Pawar’s NCP insists it wants to contest 144 seats in next month’s elections, exactly half the number of seats in the Maharashtra Assembly. Senior partner Congress has said that is a preposterous demand. The NCP too held a meeting in Mumbai, to discuss how long it should wait for the Congress to respond to its 50-50 offer. Sharad Pawar is not in favour of a split with the Congress, his nephew and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, a powerful leader in the party, believes the NCP should explore new avenues by going alone, and they are also banking on BJP’s split with Sena so that a new alliance can emerge. The Congress and the NCP are ruling Maharashtra from the last 15 years. In 2009, the Congress contested 174 seats and the NCP had contested 114. However, in this year’s national election, in the rout that the partners faced, the NCP won four seats and the Congress two.

However, BJP was making it a poll plank because it wants to come to power. Neither Shiv Sena nor BJP keeps promises made to people. The Maharashtra Assembly Election is on October 15 and this will be the first state poll the Shiv Sena will fight after its founder Bal Thackeray’s death in 2012, and solely under his son Uddhav’s leadership, must be weighing heavily on the latter’s mind. BJP made a fresh proposal, which gives it 130 seats and the Sena 140. On the other hand, Sena offered the BJP 117 seats while keeping 155 for itself, with the rest for the other allies, which is fewer than they asked for. Shiv Sena is quite wary of the BJP given the latter’s aggressive expansion across the country.

The Congress and the NCP have shared power in Maharashtra since 1999, soon after Pawar quit the Congress on the issue of party chief Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin. The NCP has also been part of the Congress-led UPA at the Center since 2004 and is the second-largest constituent in the opposition alliance. The talk in the Congress is that they are ready to give around 128 to 130 seats to the NCP, nothing beyond this is possible. Though not significantly greater, it has emboldened the NCP to make specific demands. It wants the Congress to stay away from its strongholds. It is also insisted that the Chief Minister’s post will be discussed only after the elections – so far the chief minister has always been a Congressman. Nominations for the assembly election are closing on September 27. Voting will be held on October 15 and counting of votes are on October 19.