Maharashtra witnessed Lotus bloom this year

Maharashtra witnessed Lotus bloom this year

The two back-to-back elections – the April-May Lok Sabha elections and the Assembly polls in October saw the resurgence of saffron power in Maharashtra during 2014. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) along with Shiv Sena initially wiped out the Congress and NCP and contributed significantly to making BJP’s Narendra Modi the prime minister — in terms of number of LS seats from the state — and later in the year the BJP installed its first Chief Minister in Maharashtra when 44-year-old MLA from Vidarbha, Devendra Fadnavis, assumed the top post.

The results of the Vidhan Sabha polls came as a near shocker to Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, the son of late Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray, who in his rallies not only targetted Modi, but also claimed a Shiv Sena majority.

Uddhav’s cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray suffered a major jolt in both the elections – and he would have to revive the party ahead of the corporation elections.

Post Lok Sabha polls and ahead of the Vidhan Sabha polls – the 25-year-old Shiv Sena-BJP saffron alliance broke down as did the Congress-NCP Democratic Front – which ruled Maharashtra for 15 years. In December, however, Shiv Sena decided to ally with BJP again – and joined the Fadnavis government, offering the state much-needed stability.

The BJP, however, ensured that the Shiv Sena joined the government on its terms and conditions – and denied the post of deputy chief minister – which has become a practice and custom for the last two decades of coalition politics in Maharashtra.

Before the Sena joined the government, the Sharad Pawar-led NCP extended “unconditional outside support” to the government but the Fadnavis government sailed through the floor test through a controversial voice vote. After hectic negotiations, the BJP and Shiv Sena came together again.

The BJP-led government also ensured that it constantly mounted pressure on the Opposition and after much delay, the Leader of Opposition for both Houses were announced. While Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil of the Congress became LoP in Assembly, his counterpart in the Council is NCP’s Dhananjay Munde, nephew of the late Gopinath Munde.

The biggest loss politically was the death of veteran BJP leader and Union Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde, who died in a road accident in New Delhi. Veteran Congressmen – A R Antulay and Murli Deora too died during the year following prolonged illness.

Politically, it has been a happening year with several politicians switching sides ahead of polls, and this was common for almost all the parties.

The state also faced several problems, including the agrarian crisis. Early this year several parts of the state saw severe hailstorms and now the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions are facing drought-like conditions. Besides, the recent hailstorm in Khandesh region and unseasonal rain in Konkan has affected the cash crops.

The problem of suicides by farmers in the Vidarbha region continues to be a major issue for the administration. The Rs 70,000-crore irrigation scam, which has mounted problems for former deputy chief minister Pawar and Sunil Tatkare — both of the NCP — and the Adarsh housing scandal involving former chief minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan too dominated the political scenario.

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