By Anil Nair
In Maharashtra the outcome of the elections is not predictable and easy to gauge. The Nadurbar-Dhule region has about 22 seats in all. What could work against the Congress here is the several cases of malnutrition deaths in the tribal community. It remains to be seen if the BJP-Shiv Sena combine has been able to convince voters here about their strategies and intentions to serve the people better, improve their lifestyle and combat pove-rty which has led to the star-vation deaths. In the last election, BJP-Shiv Sena won 11 seats here, while the Congress-NCP made it to nine seats. The remaining two seats were taken by Independents.
Jalgaon seat has some interesting contenders. Suresh Jain of the NCP is the star candidate here, while the Sena candidate is Chandrakant Sonawane. Shri Jain had won this constituency with consider-able majority even if he had changed parties repeatedly. He won this constituency when he was in Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP. But voters will certainly remember that Shri Anna Hazare'scampaign against Shri Jain had led to political upheaval, and they may not vote for him any more.
Well, for Shri Pramod Mahajan, the BJP senior strategist, this is yet another easy territory if he could bring back all those allegations upfront for the benefit of the voters, that is if they have already forgotten Shri Hazare'shard drive against corruption.
Each region in the state gives an interesting political edge to different parties and yet it is not known how they will fare in the coming Assembly elections. Though it is easy to predict that BJP-Shiv Sena will be back in power, only because of anti-incumbency and the present government'slargely indifferent attitude, one must not lose sight of the dynamics of the region which can make such a poll predictions fall flat.
A recent survey done by a national newspaper in the state reveals the expectations of the people. Most said that they wanted an educated Chief Minister and some said they pined for a ?middle-aged? state cabinet minister with experience, knowledge and maturity. In yet another survey conducted by a newspaper, people have made it clear that the populist measures announced by the Congress-NCP government have no unconditio-nal approval. The cost that power utilities have to pay in the case of free power to farmers promised by all the leading contenders only reiterates their concern over adjunct issues of power reforms and deregulation.
But let'slook at the demography of constituencies in the state to find out if the BJP-Shiv Sena will come back to power as suggested by many during our interaction with voters in the state. In the Konkan region, or what northerners would like to call the coastal region of the state, there are about 30 Assembly constituencies. In the last Assembly elections, BJP-Shiv Sena swept the polls winning 20 out of the total seats. Appropriately, this region is called the stronghold of the ?saffron? combine.
But this time round, the contest between former Chief Minister Narayan Rane (Shiv Sena) and the Congress candidate Vijay Sawant is considered a mega ego tussle. Shri Sawant, one must note, has declared assets worth Rs 206 crore in his affidavit to the Election Commission. One will also remember that Shri Rane'sbungalow was ransacked by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) workers which led to a lot of heart-burn amongst the Sainiks who are spoiling for a fight, if only to prove their might. It is even conceded by Congress partymen that Konkan used to be a Congress bastion till Shri Rane and company made inroads and quietly established themselves, so much so that Shri Sawant'scandidature is being seen in his ability to raise resources to get back the lost ground.