While writing this column though the final result is yet to be definitive, the trends are rather obvious in Maharashtra. In Vidarbha and Marathwada, 16 out of 18 seats, mandate is in clear favour of BJP-Sena. It is true that the social media forwards and messages do not give an indication of accurate poll results, having said this, even after the peoples mandate is seen, experts and many non ones are screeching on top of their voices on various channels.
Congress has lost Akola, Solapur, Nanded and Buldhana their bastions primarily due to Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. Even though there is truth in it and the numbers prove these results, the fact is nobody except the arrogance displayed by the leaders of Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi is responsible for the outcome.
The entire result would have been different had the leaders of all three parties buried their differences and formed an alliance of Congress-NCP-VBA. But the leaders from three parties behaved petty, overestimating their strength and stubbornly resisted this alliance. Now there is no point analysing these issues, because not a single VBA candidate has won from the 48 seats.
At the same time Congress and NCP face a huge debacle. Two former chief ministers of Maharashtra Sushilkumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan from Solapur and Nanded have lost. In fact Shinde has lost in the second consecutive Lok Sabha elections.
Congress party has paid a price for engaging both these leaders in their constituencies, that both failed to assess the mandate that was going against them. Moreover, both these leaders failed to bring this to the notice of their party high command.
On the other hand, the Shiv Sena has to take the responsibility of losing Aurangabad and Amravati for the first time in two decades. One can say, Chandrakant Khaire’s defeat from Aurangabad is what ‘Shri’ God and Shiv Sainiks themselves wanted. This is the harsh ground reality that one needs to take into consideration.
Despite such developments, Congress completely failed to capitalise and gain from this situation. If Congress had fielded a Maratha candidate from Aurangabad and capitalised on the anti-incumbency factor, their victory was for sure. But instead, the leaders of these parties only pulled down each other’s leaders and exchanged barbs against each other.
Moreover they went ahead and fielded a mediocre leader who was discarded from day one of the elections by the public. Adsool faced the same fate as Khaire. (I had previously written both these candidates should have been changed). The day Shiv Sena roped in Arjun Khotkar, Raosaheb Danve’s victory was assured from Jalna constituency.
Having said that, it is also true, Danve did not reciprocate and failed to help Khaire in Aurangabad. This was Sena’s shortfall. Moreover, instead of following the honour code of alliance, Khaire preferred to stand by the independent candidate, Harshvardhan Jadhav. These allegations were made by Khaire, which Danve could not disprove.
The defeat of Sena candidate from Osmanabad and Congress candidate from Beed were primarily due to taking the voters for granted. It is time the political parties changed their mindset. Their belief of voters will elect any candidate the party fields, is misplaced and the voters have strongly indicated it is time for change. More importantly, Dhananjay Munde has failed to counter the consolidation of the Munde sisters—Pankaja and Pritam.
Lastly, in Vidarbha, the Nagpur seat in which we saw a fight between BJP’s Nitin Gadkari and rebel BJP leader Nana Patole. Gadkari’s victory was sealed even before the elections. Even though the television channels tried to make Patole seem formidable, the fight was one-sided, was a foregone conclusion.
However, the communal twist given by Congress and Patole in the last week of campaigning is highly worrisome. Gadkari took up the issue of development and in contrast was the communal angle taken up by did make the core BJP leaders a bit nervous, but that was more regarding whether Gadkari’s margin would be impacted or not.
As a result the debate which was surfaced was whether caste is more important or one’s credibility. However, the mandate did not hesitate to show what they stand for, which one can say is to Nagpur’s credit. While concluding one important factor which needs to be noted is Raj Thackeray factor was ineffective.
(Praveen Bardapurkaris a senior columnist and former editor of Loksatta, Nagpur)