Assembly Elections-2014: Its BJP vs ALL
Two prosperous States, Maharashtra and Haryana, from LBT (Looto, Banto Tax) to lands for Damad, the election campaign is charged fully as it was in recent Lok Sabha election. It is not only because of political importance of these States and test for less than 150 days Modi government but it is because of the fact that first time, in these States, BJP is going to be major force at its own, without alliance. There was a time when Congress was thinking to fight alone and form single party government in center and states. They were refuting the importance of coalition politics even in 1990’s and post 1990. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to take it seriously in its action. And, now it makes single party government inroads in Maharashtra and Haryana. In Maharashtra politics, the post-Bala Saheb Thakre period starts which have given immense opportunity to Shiv Sena and BJP for shaping future political course. It is not only the anti-incumbency factor against Congress and NCP but it is also a resurgence of BJP under Narendra Modi, revival of Shiv Sena with sympathy for Bala Saheb and crossroads for MNS after split BJP and SS.
Maharashtra is going to witness a five cornered contest this time as all the major parties have broken away from their respective pre-poll alliances. For almost one and half decade the State had witnessed alliance politics, and to an extent development was the victim of this alliance era. As we all know, blatant and penetrated corruption, sheer inefficiency, anti-people administration and policy paralysis were the salient features of the outgoing Congress-National Congress Party (Cong-NCP) Government. Maharashtra even saw at least four different chief ministers and open infighting within ruling parties.Recent Lok Sabha polls witnessed good increase in voters’ turnout (67 per cent) which resulted in a clear mandate to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Almost all political leaders across the party line accept, although in private, that the increased voters’ turnout was the result of the Modi wave and magic of the BJP's positive campaigning.Pre-poll surveys last month had predicted a large victory margin for the NDA -almost 200 seats, if it fought the elections together. However the sources both within Shiv Sena and BJP claim that their assessment predicts clear victory to their respective parties, although not so grand, if they go on their own.As all parties are contesting independently and the campaigns are yet to take shape while writing this report, all leaders and strategists are engaged in brainstorming over how to increase the vote share of their respective parties. They fear of hung Assembly if the voters’ turnout remains low and no party with fractured mandate will be able to offer good governance required for stable State economy.Voters look confused as of now, because of large defections taking place even after the date to submit the forms exceeded. The main beneficiary of these large scale defections is the BJP, which is witnessing entries of heavy weights from all the parties almost on hourly basis. Such large scale is the exodus from the NCP, that it is being commented by the journalists in Mumbai that, “Soon the NCP will be curtailed to the members of Pawar family only!”Large Defections—Confused Voters—Insecure LeadersVoters in general and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) related cadres in particular, can be seen unhappy with the BJP for such a large-scale intake from the corrupt NCP, which the people of Maharashtra have become fed up of. BJP on the other hand seems to be enjoying the so-called 'strengthening' of the party. General public says that the NCP leaders are entering BJP to hide their sins of corruption. But not only BJP, each and every party including Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Republican Party of India (RPI) are witnessing defections and new entries and it can be said for sure that the politics of Maharashtra will never be the same. Caste equations and social engineering are being re-invented by every party. Grass root workers across the party-lines see this alliance-free election as an opportunity to strengthening their party organisation at the lowest level. Now people of the State are waiting for Modi's public meetings to get the clear directions of the future. And it looks funny, but each party seems dependant on the Modi-magic to increase total voters’ turnout, which will be the key to clear mandate.
—Rajesh Prabhu Salgaonkar from Mumbai