In Maharashtra, election campaigns have risen to a fever pitch. Voting took place on 15th October with about 64% voter turnout and the results will be declared on the 19th itself. This elections is different from the past because both the major alliances, Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena-BJP have ended and all of them have decided to contest independently.
With the decimation of Congress in the general elections, it would not really be a surprise to see both the Congress and the NCP end up in the same pathetic position as they are in at the center today. The corruption scams such as the Adarsh Housing scam and the fact that a relatively ‘clean’ Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan could not take any action against his own party members or its alliance partner, has meant a complete policy paralysis akin to the last years of the Manmohan Singh government.
On the other side of the divide, with the passing away of Bal Thackaray, the quasi-fascist leader of the right wing, Marathi chauvinist Shiv Sena and stronger position of the BJP (both in Maharasthra and the Center), Shiv Sena is facing a battle of its own with a much weaker leadership under son Uddhav Thackeray. The communal BJP under Modi-Shah duo is harping on development mantra and the international brand image around Narendra Modi. As the exit polls seems to suggest, it may not be too far fetched to say that BJP (with the major backing of the corporates) may emerge as the single largest party in the state.
Even if BJP does not get an outright majority, it definitely is in a better position to bargain for a post poll alliance with either Sharad Pawar’s NCP (for whom power is everything!) or Shiv Sena and even other small right wing, sectarian parties like Raj Thackarey’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) etc.
Left parties, particularly the CPI and CPI(M) are a ghost of their former self and this time they are contesting 21 and 19 seats respectively. They are mainly relying on the charisma of their local candidates, but it really has nothing on offer as far alternative politics are concerned and are not likely to have any impact in the elections.
While all the main alliance partners are busy criticizing each other on how much they had to suffer with the other partner(!), the real issues such as farmer sucides and the impact of neo-liberal reforms on the working people of Maharashtra are not at all issues as far as the main political parties of Maharashtra are concerned.