Friday, June 14, 2024

Maharashtra: Disquiet in ruling coalition after dismal performance in Lok Sabha polls

Unease looms large in the Eknath Shinde-led Mahayuti coalition in Maharashtra, after the poor performance in Lok Sabha elections. 

The disquiet became quite visible as deputy CM and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar skipped a key National Democratic Alliance (NDA) meeting in Delhi on Wednesday.

According to sources, Pawar was upset over the downfall of his party in the Lok Sabha election, as his faction of the NCP managed to win only the Raigad Lok Sabha seat out of the four constituencies it had contested.

Adding to the loss, in Baramati seat, his wife Sunetra Pawar was defeated by his cousin and incumbent MP Supriya Sule, the daughter of NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar. 

Despite a stellar campaign, Sule ran to victory, with a margin of more than 1.5 lakh votes.

The loss in Baramati has led to a new row of dissonance with NCP MLC Amol Mitakri today accusing the BJP and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena of “betrayal” by not campaigning wholeheartedly for Ms. Pawar.

‘The loss of Baramati has been a humiliating defeat. Our alliance partners did not work for us. This was a family seat. Anybody will feel upset with this defeat… We have a party meeting on Friday and I will raise this issue,” said Mr. Mitkari, who is also an NCP spokesperson. He added that he would “take names” of the leaders from the Mahayuti parties who had not campaigned as expected.

Four of the six Assembly segments in Baramati are held by Mahayuti, and Pawar himself is about to complete 35 years as an MLA.

Despite all these favourable factors, the ruling coalition failed to consolidate voter base for Ms. Pawar.

NCP Ajit Pawar faction’s poor performance has put the party’s future within the coalition at stake.

Joining the Mahayuti alliance, Ajit Pawar had to shake hands with his old nemeses including former Minister and Shiv Sena leader Vijay Shivtare, and the BJP’s Harshavardhan Patil.

At a time when Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde is seeking to expand the state cabinet and the MLAs of the Shinde-led Shiv Sena are willing to get accommodated in the space ahead of the Assembly polls, Ajit Pawar and his party is assumed to be adversely affected.

Moreover, there is a rumour that around 10-15 MLAs of the Ajit Pawar camp are in touch with Sharad Pawar and are likely to get back to NCP (SP). If it is true, then the Mahayuti alliance will have to go through a political turbulence.

Earlier on Wednesday, Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis has offered to tender his resignation, citing the BJP’s bad performance in the state in the general elections. 

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