Maharastra: The Mandate that Got Disrespected

Contrary to Popular belief before Elections, that BJP may alone garner simple majority or may end up close to magic figure of 145; Maharashtra sprung a massive surprise with BJP ending up at 105, 40 Short of majority mark. Yet Mandate was still meant for a BJP lead Government headed by popular CM Devendra Fadnavis who happens to be the first CM after VasantRao Naik since 1975 to have successfully completed stipulated 5 year tenure. Prepoll alliance of BJP and Shiv Sena won a simple majority. Yet, Maharashtra awaits a government. As many as three political parties have been asked to come forward and form a government. Maharashtra still awaits a government. The wait has gotten so long that Maharashtra is now under President’s Rule.

The story of how Maharashtra went from a clear electoral mandate to the political mess lies in the story of long-time frenemies becoming enemies (for now) and parties at the opposite of ends of the ideological spectrum contemplating coming together.

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How the story will end is anybody’s guess with all sorts of Post poll formations and alliances possible – but what is sure is that Maharashtra will remain under President’s Rule for some time. But how we got here is certainly something we can recap for you.

Image result for cartoon on maharashtra politics
Pic Courtesy: NDTV

Firstly, let us analyze why we got to a situation where BJP couldn’t come close to Magic figure despite general perception and all the momentum in its favor –

  1. Complacency among Cadre & Supporters of an assured victory
  2. Bad Ticket Distribution in subregions like Vidarbha where settling scores with Internal rivals sabotaged BJP prospects in its bastion
  3. The probable candidates who were denied tickets contested as rebel independents who dented BJP Prospects in roughly 30 seats
  4. Although BJP and Shiv Sena contested as allies, but on some seats there was clear trust deficit and lack of co-ordination, resulting in both parties working against each other
  5. Anti-incumbency on Farmer’s longstanding issues especially in regions like Vidarbha
  6. Central agencies raiding Pawar Family in the middle of the Election Campaign gave NCP Chief Sharad Pawar an Emotional issue to seek sympathy and go all out in his bastion of Western Maharashtra where Maratha consolidation behind NCP ensured NDA defeat
  7. BJP’s overreliance on National security issues lead to undermining of Local issues, resulting in Voter disenchantment and low Voter turnout, whereas on the other hand UPA mobilization by its Regional Satraps and NCP cadre was far better

While a tally of 100+ seats in back to back elections is highly commendable & superlative performance by BJP, a feat not been accomplished by any Political force in Maharashtra in last 25 years. Yet it was a performance below expectation caused majorly by Ticket Distribution, Internal rivalry and Complacency.

Secondly, we need to analyze why despite a Pre-Poll alliance, BJP and Shiv Sena didn’t come together to form a Govt.

After a 30-year alliance that lasted through good and bad times, the Shiv Sena on Monday broke all ties with the BJP as the power sharing formula in Maharashtra drove an irreparable wedge between the two partners, who till before the elections said their shared Hindutva ideology had kept them together.

Often compared to a bad marriage, the Shiv Sena and the BJP’s relationship had been rocky over the last few years as both tussled to be the dominant partner in the key state, where the power axis had tilted considerably towards the latter.

With the Congress getting three consecutive terms at power in Maharashtra from 1999-2014 and BJP playing second fiddle to Sena in opposition, but after the rise of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in the BJP, the 2014 Maharashtra election proved to be a turning point for the alliance. The BJP and Shiv Sena could not reach an agreement and contested separately.

Shiv Sena got about half of what the BJP got – 63 to 122. After initial hiccups, the BJP and Shiv Sena joined hands to form government with Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister. Since then Shiv Sena although being part of both Union and state governments has enjoyed power, yet remained a bitter critic and opposition within Government.

Five years later, they reached another seat-sharing arrangement — with the BJP as the senior partner and hence had to accommodate smaller allies from its own quota – marked with a “secret” understanding, the Shiv Sena has claimed.

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Sena, meanwhile, has surprised everyone with its hard bargaining despite mandate for a BJP lead Govt. Uddhav Thackeray appeared to be fearing a split in his party if he didn’t settle for junior partner status in the NDA and contest fewer seats than BJP. But with BJP not doing as well as expected, Sena is now revealing its true colors. By sticking to its demand for rotating the CM post and a 50:50 split in ministerial berths it is daring BJP to fall in line or to sit in opposition if an NCP-Sena tie up materializes. While Sena won’t mind sending the assembly into prolonged suspended animation, dissolution of the assembly may be counterproductive to both BJP and Sena.

While the BJP and Shiv Sena continued to fight it out, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party decided to play the watching game.

Arithmetically speaking, no party in Maharashtra had the ability to form a government without the help of any other. The possible combinations in Maharashtra were: BJP-Shiv Sena, Congress-NCP-ShivSena, BJP-NCP.


Literally anything is possible in Maharashtra. All parties seem to be busy in hectic discussions.

BJP: Since officially announcing it did not have the numbers to form the government, the BJP has maintained silence. The party has not commented much on the goings-on in the state and would be keenly eyeing on how talks between NCP, ShivSena and Congress progress.

Shiv Sena: The Shiv Sena, for now, looks to be working towards an understanding with the NCP and the Congress. Lone Shiv Sena minister in the Union cabinet resigned on Monday (a demand put forth by UPA) and on Tuesday, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray maintained that his party was working on coming up with a “Common Minimum Programme” for governing Maharashtra with the NCP and the Congress.

Congress: Initially, Congress central leadership was believed to be unwilling to partner with Shiv Sena in any form. However, pressure from local leaders seems to have changed their stance and the party has deputed Senior Central Leaders from Delhi to hold discussions with the Shiv Sena.

NCP: The stance of the NCP seems to be the most curious NCP seems to have taken the lead in discussions with the Shiv Sena. For the most part, the NCP has indicated a positive outcome in its talks with the Sena but at the same time has maintained that there are certain issues that need to be worked upon. There have been numerous theories doing around in Political Circles that NCP might be flirting with BJP as well from backchannel communication and it might be a double ploy of Old Fox “Sharadchandra Pawar” to weigh all options before making a final decision. NCP is the biggest gainer of all this political Turmoil. There is another theory that NCP may end up joining NDA after dragging Sena to no point of return in NDA lead by BJP.


Legally, President’s Rule can last for six months. This gives some time for the different political parties to work out their difference and come up with a coalition that can form government in Maharashtra.

Technically, any alliance that believes it has the required numbers can approach the governor who can then invite the party to form the government and prove its majority on the floor of the House.

NCP, SS & INC Govt formation has the highest probability, followed by BJP NCP and lastly probability of BJP + Breakaway faction of SS cannot be ruled out either.

If the logjam still continues and there is no respite from the Political Deadlock for any formation to be able to stake claim to power, President’s Rule will have to be extended — after approval from the Union cabinet — or fresh elections will have to be held in the state.

Abhinav Katyal

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