Mumbai : As results for the assembly elections will be declared on Sunday, winning margins of the candidates are expected to fall sharply. The question, which party will be benefited, remains unanswered till then.

Margins below 2,000 or 3,000 votes mean that the seat can swing any way depending on the candidate and the campaign, and in a four-way battle, the impact of division of votes is expected to be more. If senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse is to be believed, the party had concentrated on such seats from the very beginning. It would now be interesting to see which party gets benefited by the division of votes.

In 2009, the seats where the winning margin was less than 5,000 were 68, or roughly a quarter of the total number of assembly seats. But, this time alliances broke and the number of contestants went up sharply.

In the 2009 elections, the alliances (Cong-NCP & Sena-BJP) were intact but the MNS factor was very powerful and almost all the constituencies had three cornered fights. That led to 32 of the 288 Assembly constituencies being won with a margin of less than 3,000 votes.

The Assembly elections in 1999 too were similar – three-cornered – when Sena-BJP alliance was intact and Congress and NCP contested separately. That time the number of seats that were decided by a margin of less than 3,000 votes was 47 and other 27 were won with a margin of less than 2,000 votes.

Congress had the worst impact of the division of votes, in losing the seats it should had won. They could bag only four of these 27 seats, but came a close second in 16 constituencies. NCP also won four and was the runner-up in six. As the two Congress parties turned into rivals, the Sena-BJP gained advantage. The alliance won 15 of the 27 seats and were placed second in four other seats by a small margin. If the winning margin is below 4,000 votes, then 63 of the 288 seats were decided thus.

In the last Assembly election, eight of the 32 were so closely contested that the victory margin was below 1,000 votes. In Kankavli, regarded as the bastion of Narayan Rane, the margin between the winner and the runner-up was only 34 votes, or 0.02% of the total votes.

The Congress-NCP candidates won 14 of the 32 seats and came second in 12 other seats. The Sena-BJP candidates won in 13 and came second in 10 seats.

However, the interesting part is the performance of each party. Congress won 10 seats and was placed second in seven others. The BJP won seven seats and was the runner-up in six, while Sena won six and was runner-up in four. The NCP won four seats and came second in five others.

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