[Goanet] No clear majority for BJP in Maharashtra ... the gutter that is politics (Nikhil Wagle)
Goanet News
2014-10-19 17:03:03 UTC
No clear majority for BJP in Maharashtra: Has the Narendra
Modi wave lost steam?
Sunday, 19 October 2014 - 9:45pm IST | Place: Mumbai |
Agency: DNA

Nikhil Wagle

The Bharatiya Janata Party has achieved historic success in
the just concluded Maharashtra assembly elections. The party
won 122 seats and has garnered over 27% votes. The BJP or
its earlier avatar Jan Sangh, has never achieved this number
since 1960. Even when the Shiv Sena-BJP government came to
power in 1995, BJP had won only 65 seats. This underlines
how historic this win has been for the BJP.

And yet, the BJP hasn't been able to attain a
majority on its own. Prime Minister Narendra Modi
held over 25 rallies in the state and appealed for
a clear majority for the party. As the assembly
elections were held on the back of the Lok Sabha
elections, it was being claimed that there was a
Modi wave in the state. It cannot be denied that
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity has a
lion's share in the BJP victory. But this
popularity has not been enough to get a clear
majority. BJP party president Amit Shah's caste
arithmetic too hasn't been entirely successful.
BJP got seats in Mumbai-Thane (25), western
Maharashtra (24), north Maharashtra (15), Vidarbha
(35) and Konkan (1). Except Konkan, BJP is ahead
of the Sena in all regions of Maharashtra. But the
party must introspect why it could not do
exceptionally well in Vidarbha and why it was
rejected in Konkan. It is here that the BJP lost
seats that could have come in handy for the
majority. It could have done better even in north

Had there been a Sena-BJP alliance, it wouldn't have been
difficult for them to get 200 seats. We will know how both
parties suffered after details emerge on voting, but breaking
of alliance is one of the reasons why Sena's strength was
reduced in the Mumbai-Thane belt. MNS too damaged Sena here.
And yet, we must give credit to Uddhav for the 60 seats Shiv
Sena has won. This was the first assembly election in the
absence of Bal Thackeray. Uddhav had played the biggest
gamble of his life by playing hardball while negotiating with
the BJP. The gamble could have proved costly as the alliance
eventually broke. But Uddhav led the campaign from the front
and managed to take on the Modi wave to a great extent. Now
BJP doesn't have an option to go for an alliance with the
Shiv Sena. They will enjoy power if they negotiate in a
mature manner now. Or else, the Nationalist Congress Party
has already expressed willingness to go with the BJP by
offering unsolicited support.

One expected Congress-NCP to meet their Waterloo in this
election. The Congress-NCP government had faced innumerable
allegations of corruption, misappropriations and inefficient
governance. And yet, together the two parties have scored 85
seats between them (Congress 45, NCP 41). NCP has kind of
managed to keep its bastion in western Maharashtra by winning
21 seats there and Congress was saved by the skin of their
teeth as the party won 15 seats in Vidarbha. As many as 14
ministers from this government lost in these polls. Defeats
for Narayan Rane, Rajendra Darda, Anil Deshmukh, Nitin Raut,
Ganesh Naik, Satej Patil, Sachin Ahir and Harshwardhan Patil
have been noteworthy. Each of them behaved like a satrap of
their constituency. Rane was the chief of Congress' campaign
committee. The message from the voter is clear to them - you
cannot continue to run your politics based on money and

The biggest loser this election seems to be the MNS who had
13 legislators in the last assembly. They managed only 1 seat
and not even a single one from Mumbai-Thane this time. Raj
Thackeray might be pursued by the media, but the voters seem
to be totally disenchanted with him. He had shown hope once
upon a time. But today he is a living example of what happens
when you don't take politics seriously.

The biggest peculiarity however is the entry of Asaduddin
Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen's into the
Maharashtra assembly. This party now has three MLAs in
Maharashtra. We had seen how the party was influencing
Muslims here in the Nanded municipal corporation. It was a
clear indication that the Muslim voter was going away from
the Congress. The entry of such religious fanatical parties
is going to prove to be a headache in the future.

One of the key issues in this election was the
criminalisation of politics. Vijaykumar Gavit and Anil Gote
won their seats, but Babanrao Pachpute and jail inmates like
Sureshdada Jain and Gulabrao Deokar lost. Political parties
must learn a lesson from this. We need to figure if
Maharashtra politics will ever go beyond elective merit.

This election has also underlined both Modi's influence as
well as his limitations. It has also brought to the fore
deficiencies of other parties. Voters have tried to fill the
void of credibility by voting for the BJP and Modi. And yet,
by not giving a clear majority, they have also told the BJP
that they don't trust them fully. As many as 59 BJP
candidates had switched over from another party to the BJP on
the eve of the polls. It will be interesting to see how many
of them were elected. If they are one-third of the total
number of the BJP legislators, then it's not a good sign.

There is no doubt that there will be a BJP-led government in
the state. But people are watching closely how it is going to
be ushered in. If BJP indeed takes support from the
unprincipled NCP, people are not going to like it. Because
this mandate is for the BJP-Sena government. All one can
advise the new government is to not ignore this. Or else it
won't be long before we see a repeat of 1999.


* * *

Maharashtra Elections 2014: Who will clean up this gutter?
Monday, 13 October 2014 - 7:52pm IST | Place: Mumbai |
Agency: DNA

Nikhil Wagle

Elections are considered a celebration of
democracy. However, the upcoming elections in
Maharashtra seem to be a festival reserved only for
our netas. After the inception of the state, the
political ethos in Maharashtra has degraded
consistently but in the 2014 elections, it has hit
rock bottom. This assembly election is centered
around wholesale political defections, criminals
gaining in stature, and the naked display of
wealth. And the media, which is supposed to keep
an eye on this, is allegedly indulging in paid
news. The Congress, NCP want to retain power by
hook or by crook and the Shiv Sena, MNS and BJP
have sniffed their best possible chance as well.
In the lust for power, conscience has gone out of
the window.

Bowing down to the 'rising sun' is a commonly seen mindset.
Unsurprisingly, defectors are hovering around the BJP who
have in turn welcomed these defectors with open arms. Among
the 256 seats contested by BJP, 59 candidates have been
imported from various parties. One-third of these imported
candidates belonged to the NCP. Of course, the Congress, Shiv
Sena and MNS are not an exception to defections, but their
numbers are not as big. If BJP emerges as the single largest
party, one-third of their candidates will be those not loyal
to the party's ideology. In 1990, the Congress gave tickets
to criminals like Pappu Kalani and Hitendra Thakur. At that
time, Sharad Pawar overlooked their shady character and
focused only on elective merit. The BJP and other opposition
parties had rightly gone hammer and tongs against this. But
24 years later, the BJP has followed the footsteps of Pawar
by incorporating people like Vijaykumar Gavit and Babanrao
Pachpute. More than 70% of these imported candidates are

But why pillory the BJP alone? Shiv Sena has given
candidatures to Uday Samant, Deepak Kesarkar, Prakash Surve,
Ravindra Phatak, and Anil Babar. All of them have been
welcomed from the NCP-Congress. Then, Prithviraj Pawar, a BJP
leader, is fighting on behalf of the Shiv Sena. The only
reason why defectors have not thronged the Congress, NCP and
MNS is that their chances of winning are negligible.

Criminalisation of politics dates back to the early 90s. The
agitations of Anna Hazare and GR Khairnar had given voice to
the distressed electorate. Sharad Pawar was capsized. But all
parties have conveniently forgotten this history. The
Association for Democratic Reforms scrutinized 2336
candidates and 798 of them have criminal backgrounds, which
is 34%. Among them, 23% have serious charges like murder,
attempt to murder, abduction, communal instigation and so on
leveled against them. BJP and Shiv Sena lead the race here as
well. BJP has gone a step further by giving a candidature to
Anil Gote, who was imprisoned in the Telgi scam. Chhota
Rajan's brother, Deepak Nikalje, is a candidate from the
Republican party of India (RPI), BJP's ally. The most
shocking aspect of this is that these tainted leaders share
the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi with pride. Then
there are Suresh Jain and Gulab Devkar fighting the elections
from jail. Imprisoned because of their involvement in
Jalgaon's Gharkul scam, they have shamelessly been given
tickets by the Shiv Sena and NCP respectively. Udhhav
Thackeray has also given deported Suhas Kande a chance. The
Congress-NCP have mastered the art of criminalisation and it
should come as a surprise if all their candidates are clean.
MNS is not an exception either. Raj Thackeray's party has
openly espoused violence in the past. Deplorably, these
people will make laws for us after they become MLAs.

Another NGO has found that 47% of the candidates
across the state are crorepatis and that 10 of them
have made more than 100 crores. The NCP that had
76% crorepatis last time, has 83% crorepatis now.
The BJP's rise is also staggering -- from 54% to
81% crorepati candidates. Congress' number of 66%
has gone up to 81%. The Shiv Sena is not behind
either, they had 45% crorepatis in 2009 and today
the number is 71%. After looking at these figures,
it would hardly come as a surprise if cars stacked
with cash are found during the campaign. More than
Rs 15 crore has been confiscated and a complaint
has been filled against Ajit Pawar as well.
Majority of the candidates perceive this as an
investment, which will pay huge dividends in the
next five years.

The campaign has ended now. From Shivaji to Afzal Khan, and
from roaring tiger to a mouse; everyone has been invoked in
this election. But the issues that dominated headlines in the
last five years have vanished from the agenda of political
parties. The irrigation scam, farmers' suicides, the state's
derailing economy, unemployment and women's security - none
of these issues have been relentlessly pursued by the
political parties. The campaign has come down to passing
slander remarks about others and stylish oratory skills. And
as I mentioned earlier, very few media houses have admonished
our politicians for being responsible for the degradation of
the political discourse. Most of them are busy making money.

Maharashtra, a state that is known for its philosophers,
stooping down to this level is a gloomy development. The
results will be out on October 19. All the surveys predict
unprecedented success for the BJP. It will be a historical
result if the BJP comes out with an absolute majority,
something that has never happened since the inception of the
state. If this happens, one will have to credit Modi for it.
However, the moot question is: whoever forms the government
in Maharashtra, are they going to dedicate themselves to
cleaning up this gutter?

Views expressed are the author's own

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