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BJP-Shiv Sena set to repeat its 2014 magic in Maharashtra, leads in 41 of 48 seats

Trends till 3.30 pm show the BJP is leading in 23 seats and Shiv Sena in 18, while Congress-NCP combine is leading in only six seats.

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Mumbai: The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is on track to match its 2014 record performance in Maharashtra with leads in 41 of the state’s 48 constituencies.

Trends till 3.30 pm show the BJP is leading in 23 seats and Shiv Sena in 18.

The alliance is headed to win all the six seats in Mumbai, all four constituencies in the extended Mumbai Metropolitan Region, and all the seven seats in north Maharashtra. It is ahead in the other regions of the state too.

Two of the most prestigious seats where the alliance is leading are Maval, where sitting Shiv Sena MP is leading over NCP’s Parth Pawar, Sharad Pawar’s grand nephew, by two lakh votes; and Nanded, where BJP’s Pratap Chikhalikar is leading over sitting MP and Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan in the latter’s bastion.

The BJP is leading in Ahmednagar and Madha from where it fielded Congress rebel Sujay Vikhe Patil and NCP rebel Ranjitsinh Mohite Patil, respectively. BJP’s Nitin Gadkari, too, is headed for a comfortable victory with a lead of more than 70,000 votes over Congress’ Nana Patole, a BJP rebel.

Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “I was saying all throughout that there is a silent Modi wave that will transform into a tsunami. The poor, the middle class were eager to see Narendra Modi as their leader.”

“Yes, there is a major drought in Maharashtra and there are a number of issues. But, people have faith in our alliance government to address these issues,” Fadnavis said.

Opposition fails to regain its turf

The Congress-NCP combine, which had won six seats in 2014, is again leading in six seats with Congress likely to reduce its footprint.

The Congress is leading in just one seat – Chandrapur in Vidarbha with a margin of 15,445 votes. The NCP is leading in four seats — Baramati, Shirur and Satara in western Maharashtra, and Raigad in Konkan – while an NCP-supported independent, Navneet Rana, is leading in Amravati. Besides, Imtiaz Jaleel of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen is leading in Aurangabad over sitting Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire with a margin of 28,310 votes.

NCP President Sharad Pawar said his party is expected to win at least 11-12 seats. “Even now, the contest in Madha, Buldhana and Parbhani is close and a large number of votes are yet to be counted, so we have hopes of winning 7-8 seats…Our efforts may have fallen short somewhere.”

Also read: Lok Sabha election results Live updates: Rahul Gandhi leads by 200 votes in Amethi

In 2014, the NDA had won 42 of the 48 seats in the state — BJP 23, Shiv Sena 18 and Swabhimani Shetkari Paksha 1. This time, the Swabhimani Shetkari Paksha has allied with the Congress-NCP. In 2014, the Congress and NCP were decimated with 2 and 4 MPs, respectively. Exit polls had predicted the BJP-Shiv Sena to once again dominate Maharashtra, but with a drop in their total tally.

Curtain-raiser for assembly polls

The Lok Sabha election results for Maharashtra is likely to have a notional impact on the state assembly election, less than six months away. The assembly segment-wise results will help both alliances decide which legislators to renominate for the assembly election.

In 2014, the BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP fought independently, with the BJP winning 122 of the 288 seats on the back of its thumping victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. The Shiv Sena trailed the BJP with 63 seats, while the Congress and NCP reduced their footprint in the state to 42 and 41 seats, respectively.

The Lok Sabha poll is a test for the Congress-NCP to regain its lost turf in Maharashtra after being crushed in the 2014 general and Assembly elections, and a significant rise in its tally will indicate that the alliance has started scripting its comeback in the state.

However, Pawar said, “This election was for the country and one has to accept that people voted for Modi. There will be a huge difference between this election and the Assembly election. In the state, issues of farm distress, unemployment remain and we will address these effectively.”

Meanwhile, for the BJP-Shiv Sena, a victory that is short of their 2014 tally will indicate that it is imperative for the two parties to fight the Assembly polls as an alliance too, to keep the Congress-NCP march in check.

The BJP has already launched into preparation mode for the assembly election. Fadnavis held a day-long review meeting with senior party functionaries and district heads to get on-ground feedback from party cadres and plan drought-mitigation measures. With rural distress a major political issue in Maharashtra, the party leadership has asked the  cadres to show a visible effort by the party machinery on drought relief on the ground besides the aid being extended by the government.

Also readExit polls show Shiv Sena is losing ground to BJP, will win fewer seats than its ally

Test for the alliances

The BJP and Shiv Sena mended fences just two months before the Lok Sabha elections to avoid a triangular fight, faced with a Congress-NCP reconciliation after all four parties fought the 2014 assembly polls solo.

However, even as the NDA has been battling rural distress in Maharashtra and disillusionment among a section of voters such as minorities and backward classes who backed the alliance in 2014, the Congress-NCP was hamstrung by its own internal issues.

Through the election, there were several instances of infighting, open rebellion and high-profile defections. Moreover, further defections are likely after the Lok Sabha results if the BJP-Shiv Sena win majority in Maharashtra.

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