Cong, NCP wary of M'rashtra voter response

The date for elections, October 13, raises speculation on the unlucky number

 
All the 288 assembly seats in the state would go to the polls on a single day, held on the eve of Diwali celebrations, while the political parties would learn their fortunes on October 22, when the votes will be counted.

The ruling alliance—made of Congress and the NCP—are still hanging on to an uncomfortable coalition and, with nearly a month to go for the elections, are yet to announce a seat-sharing arrangement.

Confident Congress

Buoyant from its recent success in the Lok Sabha polls, in which it had won 18 seats from the state, the Congress has asked for an increased share of 173 seats. Until Monday, leaders from both the parties, particularly the MPCC chief Manikrao Thackre, union heavy industries minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, NCP state president R R Patil and others were proclaiming to go it alone.

With the Congress party’s unexpected showing, those like Deshmukh fancied that the party could win an absolute majority if it contests the polls alone and off the crutches of the NCP which managed just eight seats in the LS poll.

Break-up

However, there has been a change of mood amongst parties, largely due to the realisation that the opposition BJP-Sena alliance may stand to gain from their break-up.

Now, both parties say that issues around seat sharing will be thrashed out in a couple of days.

While the ruling coalition is wary of voter response, which may be decided by issues like spiralling prices, drought and the economic downturn, there has also been a visible mood of despondency in the opposition camp.

Deflated BJP

Destabilised largely by the internal strife, the BJP appears deflated and seems entirely unprepared to take advantage of problems haunting the ruling alliance.
Shiv Sena Executive President Uddhav Thackeray is working hard to recharge the organisation, injecting the killer spirit to rest back the power from the Congress-NCP combine.

He has been relentlessly touring across the state and is bringing back the party’s focus on farmers, which, he believes, would help the party find the momentum to capture power in the state.

“For us, 13 is a lucky number as my father Bal Thackeray launched the Marmik magazine on that date,” Uddhav told a news conference, with an obvious reference to the election date.

He said party president Bal Thackeray is in fine health and would campaign for the party. The schedule for his campaign will be declared later.

MNS presence

The presence of Raj Thackeray, whose Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) was responsible for the Sena-BJP combine losing nine seats in the Lok Sabha elections, is a major worry for the alliance.

“The Marathi manoos have realised their mistakes and will not be swayed by the supariwalas (those who give contracts for killings),” Uddhav said, referring to the charges and complaints filed recently against a few MNS activists for criminal activities.

With seat sharing between the parties almost reaching final stages, it is expected to follow the traditional pattern of Sena contesting from more seats with the BJP as its junior partner in the assembly.

As it is the case elsewhere, the left-leaning parties have cobbled together the coalition of Third Front, which is expected to be nothing more than a horror show.
The newly unified Republican Party of India (RPI), led by Ramdas Athawale, has broken ranks with the Congress-NCP alliance to lead the Left Front. 

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