Loksabha election

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Maharashtra may be headed for hung assembly

Maharashtra may be headed for hung assembly

Maharashtra appears to be heading for a hung assembly. Leaders of the major parties — Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and BJP — themselves
concede this in private.

The assessment of the intelligence department is also the same for October 13 vote. A senior Congress leader told TOI, ‘‘Our internal assessment reveals that the Congress-NCP combine will be short of the 145-seat mark by about 20 to 25 seats. We’ll have no choice but to turn to independents, and maybe Raj Thackeray’s MNS, to secure a workable majority. Our leader Narayan Rane has assured us that he will get Raj Thackeray to support our government in return for a few berths in the cabinet.’’

A source in the Shiv Sena said: ‘‘We are depending on the Third Front winners, the independents and farmers’ leader Raju Shetty to help us form the government. In fact, we have already opened a line of communication with potential supporters.’’

NCP spokesperson Gurunath Kulkarni insisted that the ruling alliance will secure a majority of its own, but many of his senior colleagues say that this is highly unlikely.

State BJP general secretary Vinod Tawde claimed that the saffron alliance will get about 150 seats, ‘‘since the anti-incumbency factor is strong and the heavy rains in several parts of the state will affect voter turnout’’. His reasoning was that in a situation where the turnout is low, cadre-based parties like the Shiv Sena and the BJP stand to gain since they are in a better position to mobilize committed voters.

But the feedback from the grassroots to the headquarters of all parties is that no coalition will secure a majority. There are several reasons for this. Not least among them is the inability of the Shiv Sena-BJP to adequately highlight the shortcomings of the ruling parties. Issues relating to inflation, power crisis, farmers’ suicides, and law and order could have provided the opposition with potent ammunition with which to attack the incumbents.

Shiv Sena chief executive Uddhav Thackeray, who has campaigned extensively in rural areas, was of a different view, however. He said, ‘‘These issues have been taken up in a big way by us. In fact, all my rallies have been hugely successful because I take up only these issues.’’ Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde concurred. However, information from different parts of the state indicates that the opposition has not taken up these issues in a big way in the run-up to the polls, and the time available for campaigning is not adequate for parties to reach out to millions of voters.

But what appears to be the major reason for a possible hung assembly is the large number of rebels in the fray. The Congress and the NCP alone have to contend with about 85 rebels. Not all of them may be heavyweights like former minister Digvijay Khanvilkar, who is taking on Satej Patil of the Congress in Kolhapur. ‘‘But even if each of these rebels takes away 5,000 to 10,000 votes, then we will be in big trouble,’’ an MPCC office-bearer admitted.

Source : Times of India
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