Thursday, October 22, 2009

Congress-NCP win Maharashtra Assembly election, Shiv Sena-BJP lose

The Congress-NCP are all set to form the next government once again in Maharashtra. In the important yet tasteless election that hardly offered any other choice to the voters, the Congress-led coalition was heading for a third straight victory.

The trends from the morning were clear. Not just Raj Thackeray's MNS had made an impact and divided the Shiv Sena-BJP's vote, the Congress-NCP had also managed to hold its traditional base of Marathas, Muslims, Dalits and Tribals apart from the North Indian voter.

Despite its less than impressive record, the Congress-NCP combine have managed to retain Maharashtra--one of the most important states in India. Clearly, there was no other fresh alternative. Congress would be more than delighted with the outcome of the results.

For the electorate it was not an election to look forward to. The ruling alliance had performed badly in terms of governance during the last regimes. The Congress wanted to cut Sharad Pawar to size. However, the Maratha strongman has once again proved that he is a force to reckon with and his fortress remains invincible.
The other group had a regressive ideology and offered nothing new despite Uddhav Thackeray's less-rabid Hindutva. Maharashtra Navanirman Sena rocked the boat for BJP-SS but with his divisive agenda, he seems to have struck chord with a section of voter and in process ensured that Shiv Sena failed to win once again.

Despite the aging Bal Thackeray's impassioned appeal to Marathi Manush, the Sena has faltered once again. It might remain a force in Mumbai metropolis due to its hooligan ways but it can't capture power. And as political observers say, it's extremely difficult to run a regional outfit if you are out of government for over a decade, as you face a severe fund crunch.

Raj has appropriated the legacy of Thackeray. For the BJP-Shiv Sena it's a time for further reflection. If the MNS had cut into BJP-SS votes, for the Congress-NCP there was anti-incumbency and the Third Front.

After Vilas Rao Deshmukh was replaced post-26/11 Mumbai strikes, the clean image of Ashok Chavan also seems to have helped the Congress. There could be all sorts of analyses. Though BJP was also divided between Nitin Gadkari and Gopinath Munde, the Congress had to brave a very strong anti-incumbency wave.

Still, the Mahrashtra electorate chose Congress over the other coalition. The victory in this Vidhan Sabha election makes it a third consecutive win for the coalition. The election results and trends show that Cong-NCP may get a simple majority on their own.

Trends: Leads at 1 pm as per NDTV 24x7

Congress: 83
NCP: 62 Coalition [145]

BJP: 46
Shiv Sena: 44 Coalition [90]

MNS: 13
Others: 27

Note: 145 MLAs are needed for simple majority in a house of 288