It may sound ironic that a party like the BJP should win and also lose at the same time. That is what is reflected in the results to the Maharashtra Assembly elections.
The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will be able to form a government having captured 162 of the 288 seats. But the BJP will end up winning fewer seats in 2019 compared to the 2014 Assembly polls. The BJP-Sena had aimed to capture 220 seats and the saffron party was confident of crossing the half way mark of 145 on its own. That did not happen.
Why? Here are 5 factors: The BJP was over-confident; national leaders, including PM Modi, focused on issues like Article 370 and side-tracked local problems; the BJP ‘imported’ several netas from other parties; rebellion by some party leaders and, lastly, the saffron brigade underestimated old warhorse Sharad Pawar whose NCP did spectacularly well.
The BJP may drum up its victory in Maharashtra, but what lies ahead is a headache. The Shiv Sena has already started roaring, demanding a 50-50 formula. In other words, a two and a half years tenure for the Sena and the other to the BJP.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the BJP and Sena will go by what was “pre-decided” between them on sharing of power. He, however, did not elaborate on the issue despite a volley of questions from reporters.
Fadnavis has claimed that the BJP had a better “strike rate” this time, but that is only some consolation. But credit should be given to him for having completed a 5-year tenure and bouncing back – a rare phenomenon in Maharashtra.
Apart from the loss of face, the BJP is clueless on the defeat of party candidates Udayanraje Bhosale in the Satara Lok Sabha bypoll and minister Pankaja Munde in the Parli Assembly seat – two constituencies where Modi had personally campaigned.
Six of the ministers in the outgoing Fadnavis government have lost the election. Another setback.
A big takeaway in Maharashtra is the performance of the NCP whose chief Sharad Pawar led from the front at age 78. His picture of him campaigning in a downpour seems to have clicked among voters, apart from the deep faith they have in him. The next is the poor performance of the Congress which was expected as leaders fought bitterly on ground and Twitter.