Hectic parleys in M'rashtra ahead of counting

With counting of votes polled in the election to the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly scheduled for Sunday, hectic political activity has commenced about possible alliances and who would be the next chief minister.

At least a dozen are in the race for the top job in Mantralaya, the state secretariat, in the hope of reaching the magic figure of 145 in a five-cornered contest involving the BJP, Congress, Shiv Sena, NCP and the MNS. But it is not an easy task.

According to the exit polls, while no party is expected to get absolute majority – the BJP is expected to get maximum number of seats followed by the Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP, MNS and others/independents. All exit polls gave the BJP over 100 seats.

Both the BJP and the Shiv Sena exude confidence that they would be able to form the next government in Maharashtra, but have softened their aggression against each other.

“There is no need to have arguments or bitterness any more. Hearts have been broken. Though it is difficult to mend broken hearts, Maharashtra needs stability and peace. It is better that we wait for the day of counting,” the Shiv Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamna'.

Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said that  his party would get majority and the next chief minister would be Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. As far as the BJP is concerned, the frontrunner is state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis. There are others in the race as well – which include Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Eknath Khadse, his counterpart in the Council Vinod Tawde, senior leader Sudhir Mungantiwar and Pankaja Munde-Palve, the daughter of late Gopinath Munde. Union shipping and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, too, is a heavyweight, but he has ruled himself out saying that he was at the Centre and had important projects on hand.

Fadnavis, however, when asked said: “The chief minister would be decided by the legislature party and the parliamentary board.” The fractured mandate in the offing appears to be because of the split of the two alliances – the Shiv Sena-BJP saffron alliance and the Congress-NCP Democratic Front. A large number of smaller parties and Independents in the fray are contributing to it.

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