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The Battle for Maharashtra

Swayamwar jeete koi aur, aur dulha bane koi aur!

Rujuta Paradkar in Mumbai | October 16, 2004 23:35 IST

Ghee ladoos and mithai were being distributed at the NCP office in south Mumbai. Amidst beating of drums, NCP karya kartas (party workers) gloated about how hard they had worked. Little did they know that Congress might get to reap the benefits.

The NCP had promised that a Congressman would be the chief minister. But this time, it won 71 seats as against 69 by its larger alliance partner and also emerged the largest single party in the state.

Overheard a comment: "Swayamwar (a gathering in which a woman chooses her husband) jeete koi aur, aur dulha bane koi aur!!!"


Mahajan retains sense of humour

In contrast, a pall of gloom hung over every face in the BJP office nearby. The press conference, to comment on the results of the assembly elections, was delayed from 3 to 4 pm. Perhaps, more time to search for suitable answers to the questions that would be raised?

Finally, former deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde, former chief minister Narayan Rane (Shiv Sena) and BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan took centrestage. Of course, as usual Pramod Mahajan did most of the talking.

After a meticulous campaign that went on for several days, both BJP and Sena activists looked drained. The tan on their faces, from padyatras in the hot sun, and their groggy voices betrayed the torment they had endured on the campaign trail.

Pramod Mahajan began apologetically, saying the results were not according to what they had expected and that both the Sena and BJP had more tapasyaa to do in order the win the public's trust.

Questions on why they were defeated were broached but Mahajan sought to sidestep them saying, "None of you have ever fought an election and you cannot possible know how it feels in the first few hours of political defeat."

But the defeat had not robbed Mahajan of his sense of humour. When asked what the party intends to do next, his retort was, "What's the hurry? There are five long years for the next election. We will keep meeting and keep answering your questions."

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