Maharashtra battlelines drawn: MahaYuti vs MahaAghadi

BJP-Shiv Sena led six-party 'MahaYuti' and MahaAghadi' led by Congress-NCP. (PTI Photo)

The confident ruling BJP-Shiv Sena led six-party 'MahaYuti' will attempt to reduce the strength of opposition coalition 'MahaAghadi' led by Congress-NCP - as Maharashtra goes to polls on 21 October.

Battlelines were drawn for the game of votes in the 288-seat Assembly as the political fate of several big leaders and families are set to face the litmus test. 

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray have ensured that the two opposition parties are cornered. 

The Congress is in complete disarray after the debacle in Lok Sabha polls of 2014 and 2019 while the Sharad Pawar-led NCP  has been hit by switchovers with over a dozen leaders moving to BJP and Shiv Sena.

For the Grand Old Party, it is a major challenge to retain the numbers and so as the NCP.

With the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) contesting all seats,  the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) going in for 120-odd seats,  the All India Majlise-Ittahadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) around 50 seats and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) around 50,  the battle has got interesting. 

While the MNS would take up the cause of Marathi-manoos and try to create some minor problems for Shiv Sena,  the VBA,  AAP and MIM will create a dent in Congress-NCP vote bank.

The MahaYuti comprises of BJP,  Shiv Sena,  Ramdas Athawale-led RPI,  Vinayak Mete-led Shiv Sangram,  Mahadev Jankar's Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Sadabhau Khot's RayatKranti Saagathana.

On the other hand,  besides Congress and NCP,  the MahaAghadi comprises of Peasants and Workers Party led by Jayant Patil, Hitendra Thakur's Bahujan Vikas Aghadi,  Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana led by Raju Shetty,  People's Republican Party led by Prof Jogendra Kawade and Samajwadi Party.

Upbeat as it is after it indulged in massive poaching from the Opposition ranks in recent months, the BJP will in likelihood whip up patriotic fervour by drumming the Centre’s recent decision to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, inking of which has already been given both by BJP national president Amit Shah and prime minister  Narendra Modi during their recent public meetings in Maharashtra.

Similarly, the BJP – which thinks that it will encash on the “pro-incumbency” mood prevailing in the state --will go to town with its planks like making Maharashtra a drought-free state by 2024, connecting rivers in coastal Konkan region with those in western Maharashtra, creating water grid in Marathwada region to address the drinking water problems, initiatives like loan waiver and crop insurances taken by the state government to address farmers’ distress and the development push it has given in urban areas, including Mumbai, Nagpur, Thane and Pune,  through various infra projects including the Metro and expressways.     

The Congress and NCP, which ruled the state as an alliance for three consecutive terms between 1999 and 2014, will face a big challenge in the state once considered the citadel of Congress. The past masters of politics are raising issues like agrarian distress,  farmers' suicides and inflationary phase.

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