ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Maharashtra: Fighting Fatigue

The two main alliances are both fighting fatigue; the Congress-NCP group may be just ahead at the polls.

With 48 seats in the Lok Sabha, Maharashtra is one of the more important states in shaping the outcome of parliamentary elections. How the votes are polled in Maharashtra has become doubly crucial in the 15th Lok Sabha elections because of the larger uncertainty of the national outcome in 2009. A virtual fortress of theCongress till 1985, in the last 25 years the party has not done that wellinMaharashtra,exceptin 1991 and 1998. In 2004, even after a pre-election alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress and the NCP managed to win only 13 and 9 seats, respectively (with one seat going to an ally, the Republican Party of India) in 2004. Today, the two parties face the fatigue of a decade of forced cohabitation and the costs of long incumbency. From all indications, the state Con-gress and NCP will rely on the performance ofthe United Progressive Alliance government at the centre and try to shift attention from their state-level performance.

If the ruling parties confront an uphill task, the difficulties faced by the rival coalition of the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are no less. Their partnership is older than that of the Congress and NCP and therefore more strained. Both the opposition parties find the coalition constricting their own growth in the state; both have been under strain due to internal leadership crises; both are clueless about issues and strategies to be adopted at the state level.

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