Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

New Delhi : With the end of the Dussehra festivities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi will lead the charge of their respective parties for the state assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra from Saturday.

Modi has planned over two dozen campaign meetings in Maharashtra prior to the October 15 voting. This is his first leg of the campaign and all eyes will be on his rally at Turf Club grounds of Mahalaxmi Race Course on Saturday evening.

Earlier in the day, he would make an emotional connect with the late BJP leader Gopinath Munde’s followers in Beed and Aurangabad.

While Sena is banking on its bastion in Konkan, Marathwada and Marathi-speaking voters in Mumbai metropolitan region, the BJP considers itself strong in Vidarbha and North Maharashtra. It is also hoping to win over the non-Marathi speaking voters in Mumbai region. No wonder Modi picked on Race Course as venue of his rally.

Any hopes of a possible reconciliation between the BJP and the Sena were dashed to the ground on Friday with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray telling a party rally in Borivali, “The BJP kept promising ‘Achhe Din’ but as soon as they (the proverbial good days) came, it betrayed us.”

The statement has nipped in the bud buzz about a post-poll tie up. “If they wanted a post-poll tie-up, why did they break the alliance now?” Thackeray asked while repeatedly criticising the Sena’s erstwhile alliance partner in his 30-minute speech. He expressed his displeasure at the BJP demanding 50 percent seats in the state, reiterating that the next CM will be from the Shiv Sena.

The BJP is adopting a carpet bombing strategy in both Haryana and Maharashtra, and all the 378 (90+ 288) constituencies in the two states would get the attention of union ministers and celebrity campaigners.

Sonia Gandhi would be addressing a meeting each in Meham and Sirsa on Saturday and this marks the beginning of her Haryana campaign.

From a political standpoint, Modi, who led the BJP to a landmark 281 seat victory in the Lok Sabha elections, has more at stake in these elections than Sonia. His party has banked on his image and campaign skills to jettison all options of cobbling an alliance in each of these states that have been traditionally weak spots for the BJP.

On the other hand, the Congress is a long standing ruling party in both the states and facing a huge anti-incumbency disadvantage. Besides, its shock defeat in the Lok Sabha elections has left the party in a shattered state. For Sonia the task is to reclaim the lost ground.

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