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Maharashtra retains the colour saffron

BJP-Sena vote share crosses 50% for the first time since Independence

A coalition of 56-opposition parties and organisations failed to stop the Narendra Modi juggernaut in Maharashtra as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance was set to record a landslide victory by winning 41 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats.

The total vote share of the BJP-Sena combine also crossed the 50% mark for the first time since Independence. Both parties were on course to retain their 2014 tally of 23 and 18.

In its worst-ever performance, the Congress looked set to win only one seat — Chandrapur. In 2014, it had won two seats. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has bagged five seats.

The victory of the BJP-Sena alliance was aided by the division of votes caused by the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) — an alliance formed by Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM. In Solapur, Sangli, Gadchiroli, Nanded, Buldhana votes polled by VBA candidates ensured defeat of Congress and NCP candidates.

It was 6-0 for the alliance in Mumbai with BJP and Sena winning three seats respectively. The abrupt change in leadership of the Mumbai Congress from Sanjay Nirupam to Milind Deora does not seem to have helped the Congress. Neither did the support extended by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani to Mr. Deora. Actor Urmila Matondkar who contested from Mumbai North could not make her electoral debut, losing to Gopal Shetty (BJP). In Mumbai North East, NCP’s lone candidate Sanjay Dina Patil lost to Manoj Kotak (BJP), who was brought in as a replacement to the incumbent Kirit Somaiya.

Reacting to the results, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis accepted that it was the trust people have on Prime Minister Narendra Modi that has helped the alliance repeat it’s 2014 performance. “Yes, there are problems. Drought is staring at us. But the people of Maharashtra have trust on Modiji and they feel that only Modiji has answers to all our problems. That is the reason why they have voted for us,” he said.

The results sprung surprises across the State with a number of big names losing out. Among them are Congress State unit president and former chief minister Ashok Chavan (Nanded), former chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde (Solapur), and NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s grandnephew Parth Pawar (Maval) lost to Sena’s Shrirang Barne by over two lakh votes. Former Maharashtra Congress president Manikrao Thakre lost to Sena’s Bhavana Gavli.

Mr. Chavan accepted the defeat saying his party worked tirelessly to raise people’s issue. “But we failed to reach to the people. Yes, we have lost but we will not be disheartened,” he said.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar said he accepted the people’s mandate and it was time to introspect on what went wrong.

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