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The complexities of Maharashtra’s political landscape ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections

Updated on: 22 March,2024 02:56 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Devashri Bhujbal |

The Maharashtra politics always revolved around a saffron alliance of BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP democratic front. However, now there are three parties in both- MVA and Mahayuti, making six parties in total

The complexities of Maharashtra’s political landscape ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections

Representation image. File pic/Satej Shinde

Maharashtra is the only state that has seen maximum political shockers, huge change in coalition politics and power of regional parties since the 2019 elections. From BJP-Shiv Sena alliance contesting and winning elections to Shiv Sena allying with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and finally the division of Shiv Sena and NCP, the state has seen it all.

Notably, Maharashtra is the state where all its prominent parties have been the part of the government in the five-year tenure- the Shiv Sena, BJP, Congress and NCP. In the five-year tenure, the state has also witnessed some rare happenings such as, the famous 80 hours government of Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, a former chief minister demoted to deputy chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis), a leader taking oath as the deputy chief minister thrice (Ajit Pawar), a big group of sitting MLAs going missing and later one of them, Eknath Shinde turning up as the chief minister, the citizens have seen a lot.

The complexities in Maharashtra politics have placed the voter in a confused mindset. The state has seen all possible coalitions and divisions. Ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections, lets take a look some major events in the last five years that changed Maharashtra’s political landscape.

The 80-hours government

The rift in Maharashtra politics began from October 24, 2019 after the state assembly elections where BJP-Shiv Sena alliance secured highest winning mandate, but failed to stake claim to form the government amidst blame game over chief-ministership. In the wee hours of November 23, the BJP sprung a surprise as president rule was lifted as BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis took oath as chief minister along with NCP’s Ajit Pawar as his deputy. However, they failed to prove their majority as Ajit Pawar could not secure NCP MLAs. This was the shortest tenure of any government in Maharashtra and third shortest in the country. This swearing-in ceremony took place at the time when Shiv Sena along with Congress and NCP had mutually agreed to stake claim in forming the government. In an embarrassment to BJP top leadership, a Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) was formed and Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray took oath as the chief minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy.

Two is the company, three is the crowd

This proverb applies well with the political situation in the state since 2019. May it me the MVA government consisting the Congress, undivided Shiv Sena and undivided NCP, and now the Mahayuti government with BJP, Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and Ajit Pawar-led NCP, the pressures on both administrative level party level always existed. Now, with the elections on the way, the pressures on coalitions are more visible as either of them- the MVA and Mahayuti both yet not have come to a seat—sharing formula with elections just weeks away.

Maharashtra gives second highest, 48 Lok Sabha members to the Indian Parliament. Thus, the state’s regional parties play a bigger role. The Maharashtra politics always revolved around a saffron alliance of BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP democratic front. However, now there are three parties in both- MVA and Mahayuti, making six parties in total.

The BJP and Congress have released names of few nominated candidates from Maharashtra, but the fact that both the factions of both Shiv Sena and NCP have delayed announcing its candidates, highlights the internal conflicts.

Now the BJP has indicated their alliance with another regional party in Maharashtra, the Raj Thackeray’s MNS, furthering complexing the NDA’s seat-sharing in the state.

Will this ally-engineering benefit or will backfire on the BJP-led NDA, only time can reveal.

The historic divisions that changed Maharashtra’s political dynamics forever

Senior Shiv Sena leader, Eknath Shinde along with 38 sitting Shiv Sena MLAs rebelled against the party and along with BJP formed the government. This was not mere division of a political party, but it was personal for many hardcore Shiv Sainiks on the ground. Some family members of Uddhav Thackeray have shown support for Eknath Shinde.

Shinde’s stand of allying with the BJP following Balasaheb Thackeray’s Hindutva ideology and Uddhav Thackeray’s stand of allying with the Congress to save the democracy; whom will the voters in Maharashtra support is the biggest question. For every Maharashtrian, even non-supporters of Shiv Sena, the split in the party came as a shocker, which they are still digesting.

The second split came was in the Pawar family, when Ajit Pawar (this time ensuring support of MLAs) joined hands with BJP and Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena. Resigned as Deputy CM from MVA government, Ajit Pawar took oath as Deputy CM under Mahayuti government too. But his separation from his uncle, veteran leader Sharad Pawar, led divisions among NCP supporters too.

Keeping politics aside, Ekanth Shinde and Ajit Pawar faced judgements from people for causing divisions in their parties and families resulting political turmoil.

The upcoming elections will reveal if the coalitions endures the test of time.

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