Maharashtra: How BJP-Shiv Sena trumped anti-incumbency
Trends indicate towards a victory for BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra. But how did the saffron brigade manage to trump issues like economic slowdown, rising unemployment and anti-incumbency? We list some reasons.
Despite the rising unemployment and economic slowdown, which were against the BJP government in Maharashtra, BJP in alliance with Shiv Sena is on its way to form a coalition government.
Albeit the alliance is getting a majority in the Vidhan Sabha, BJP is losing in big numbers; meanwhile the Congress-NCP alliance is set to strengthen its position compared to 2014, trends indicate.
So what were the issues which which helped BJP contain the distress and anti-incumbency? We list some of them:
The top leadership of BJP especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National President Amit Shah made abolition of Article 370 a big election issue. The ternds definitely indicate that they were successful in supressing issues like economic recession and unemployment. On the other hand, the Congress-NCP allaince was in effect not able to counter the narative. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah even challenged the Congress-NCP to revive Section 370 in the rallies. Maharashtra has also been at the centre of identity politics in the past- be it nationalism or regionalism. The Maratha movement proved to be Shiv Sena's success story, which today is an alliance partner of BJP.
Defection- Central to BJP's Politics
BJP had made a lot of efforts to make leaders switch sides- be it of the of Congress party, NCP and other smaller parties. Senior Congress leader Harshavardhan Patil was included in BJP just before the elections. Apart from this, Congress MLA Kanshi Ram Pawara also joined BJP. NCP leader Namita Mundada, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi leader Gopichand Padalkar and many other leaders also flocked to the saffron fold just before the polls. These leaders are influential in their areas and BJP clearly benefited from this.
BJP was much ahead of Congress in preparations
As a strategy, BJP started preparations for the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections from the very beginning of this year. The Vidhaan Sabha campaign actually seemed to be an extension of the Loksabha elections campaign.
Under this, the disgruntled ally Shiv Sena was first brought on board. Leaders from other parties were included in the party. The top leadership of the BJP continued to visit the state and create an atmosphere in favour of the party. The Congress was far behind the BJP in this matter. However, NCP President Sharad Pawar held the fort on the other end and played an important role in reducing the margin of BJP's projected victory.
Aggressive Campaign model
Despite being in power, the BJP continuously attacked the Congress-NCP alliance. Not only in Maharashtra, but across the nation, the BJP did not leave any chance to declare the Congress and its allies as anti-nationals. Not only that, to hide the failures of the government on several issues, BJP did not leave a single opportunity to blame the previous Congress dispensation and their leaders.
BJP had a clear Chief Ministerial candidate
From the very begining, the BJP had a clear cut Chief Ministerial candidate - Devendra Fadnavis. Once again staking claim to lead the government, Fadnavis has been poised to swoop in and take over. On the other hand, if the Congress-NCP alliance is to form a government, the people would have no clue as to who thier Chief Minister would be.