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March 6, 1998


Sena-BJP win more votes, but fewer seats in Maharashtra

The ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance, despite losing two-third of the Lok Sabha seats it won in 1996, registered a 4.73 per cent increase in its popular votes in Maharashtra.

The Sena and the BJP, which won only 10 of the 47seats jointly contested by them, collectively polled 43.37 per cent votes in the recent election, against 38.64 per cent in 1996.

The Congress increased its votes by 8.33 per cent to 43.63 per cent, as against 34.80 per cent polled in 1996. Its ally, the Republican Party of India, did not cause any major dent in the votes of the Sena- BJP alliance.

The Sena, whose seats have come down from 15 to 10, secured higher votes than it did in 1996. It secured 65,73,340 (20.86 per cent) of the 315,07,615 valid votes polled in the current election, against 47,72,475 out of 2,83,32,351 valid votes in 1996. Its share of votes this time round increased by 4.02 per cent, from 16.84 per cent in the last election.

The BJP, which won only four seats against 18 in the last election, also marginally increased its vote share by 0.71 per cent. The BJP's share of votes increased to 22.51 per cent, against 21.80 per cent in 1996. It obtained 70,91,955 votes against 61,75,782 votes in 1996.

The Congress is perceived to have gained from the consolidation of the Dalit and minority votes brought about by the party's alliance with the RPI and seat adjustments with the Samajwadi Party. The Congress-RPI-SP collectively polled 50.42 per cent votes. The Congress polled 1,37,45,593 votes against 98,58,273 votes polled in the last election. Surprisingly, the RPI -- which for the first time won all the four seats it contested -- suffered a decline of 0.83 per cent in its votes. The RPI polled 4.17 per cent votes against five per cent in 1996, while the Samajwadi Party registered an increase of 0.62 per cent by polling 2.62 per cent votes against two per cent in the last election. However, the Samajwadi Party lost all the three seats it contested.

The accord with the RPI and SP seems to have given a swing of more than 8 per cent Dalit-Muslim votes in favour of the Congress, due to the two communities apparently preferring the latter party over the Janata Dal which witnessed a decline of 1.33 per cent in its vote share. Its votes have declined from three per cent in 1996 to 1.67 per cent in 1998.

All the 19 JD candidates lost the election. Among other United Front constituents, the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxist also suffered in popularity. Both polled less than one per cent votes: the CPI 0.07 per cent; the CPI-M 0.61 per cent. They had polled one per cent each in 1996.

The CPI, contesting two seats (Bhandara and Ahmednagar), secured 23,208 votes while the CPI-M, which contested three seats (Dahanu, Malegaon and Ichalkaranji) 19,085 votes. Both the Left parties drew a blank.

Their other partner in the United Front, Peasants and Workers Party, despite winning one of the two seats contested by it, also witnessed a fall in its share of votes, from two per cent to 0.83 per cent this time. The PWP has won the Kulaba seat.

The statistical analysis indicates that notwithstanding the loss of 23 seats, the Sena-BJP alliance which came to power in the state in 1995, has succeeded in retaining its share of votes, while the Congress has clearly benefited from alienation of voters from other parties.

In 1991, the Congress, contesting on its own, secured 47.6 per cent votes, the BJP 20.3 per cent, but the Shiv Sena got only 8.9 per cent votes against 23 per cent by others.


Elections '98

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