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Rediff.com  » News » 'Fadnavis Responsible For BJP Downfall'

'Fadnavis Responsible For BJP Downfall'

By PRASANNA D ZORE
June 21, 2024 09:39 IST
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'If the Maha Vikas Aghadi thinks that they have won 30 (Lok Sabha) seats and that would translate to winning 180 assembly seats they would be living in a fool's paradise.'

IMAGE: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra D Modi along with BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar, Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray at an election rally in Shivaji Park, Mumbai, May 17, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo
 

In the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the BJP, which contested 28 seats, could rustle up only nine wins, a sharp decline from the 23 MPs it got elected in the 2019 election.

The undivided Shiv Sena, the BJP's alliance partner in 2019, had won 18 seats in that election while the United Progressive Alliance comprising the undivided NCP (four seats) and Congress (one seat).

The fortunes flipped in the 2024 election as the Congress improved its tally to 14, the NCP (SP) won eight and the SS (UBT) won nine seats compared to nine for the BJP, seven for Shiv Sena and just one for the NCP.

"The majority of people across Maharashtra felt that the BJP -- Devendra Fadnavis in particular -- were responsible for the break up of the Shiv Sena and the NCP. The kind of brazen opportunism with which he (Fadnavis) ran the party led to the BJP's downfall in the state," former Congress Rajya Sabha MP and veteran journalist Kumar Ketkar -- an astute observer of Maharashtra politics for more than 50 years -- tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.

How do you look at the Mahayuti's performance in the 2024 elections? Can one say that the Mahayuti comprising the BJP, Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena and Ajit Pawar's NCP suffered a huge setback in the 2024 election?

Yes, the Mahayuti did suffer a huge setback. But in that the most significant and the biggest setback were suffered by the BJP (it could win only nine of the 28 seats it contested in the state).

Another significant result is Eknath Shinde performing better than expected and Ajit Pawar performing even poorer than his expectation.

In a very different sense, both Ajit Pawar and Eknath Shinde have surprised in this election in Maharashtra. But the BJP's single digit performance is a miserable performance.

I was personally not surprised because I had predicted that the BJP will not be able to cross single digits.

What were your reasons to feel before the elections that the BJP would not cross even single digit seats in the state?

The majority of the people across Maharashtra felt that the BJP -- Devendra Fadnavis in particular -- were responsible for the break up of the Shiv Sena and the NCP.

The kind of brazen opportunism with which he (Fadnavis) ran the party led to BJP's downfall in the state.

Even the governor was so brazen that he took orders from the likes of Fadnavis and the BJP. People were angry with the BJP than with the Mahayuti and because they were fed up with the BJP they defeated the Mahayuti.

The Mahayuti got lesser seats not because of any love (of voters in Maharashtra) for the Maha Vikas Aghadi [the alliance between the Congress, Shiv Sena (UBT) and NCP (SP)]; the latter won because of the total discontent against the BJP and Fadnavis because of his brazen tactics of engineering splits in the Shiv Sena and the NCP.

In a couple of months Maharashtra will be going into a crucial assembly election. What's your prognosis for the assembly elections? How is the chessboard stacked against the two formations -- the Mahayuti as well as the Maha Vikas Aghadi?

IMAGE: Shiv Sena (UBT) Chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar and Congress leader Nana Patole at a media interaction ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, April 9, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

I will not say that the same kind of approach, the same kind of result or the same kind of mood will prevail in the forthcoming assembly elections.

If the Maha Vikas Aghadi thinks that they have won 30 (Lok Sabha) seats and that would translate to winning 180 assembly seats they would be living in a fool's paradise.

That will not happen because that is how assembly election and Lok Sabha elections are radically quite different in content and in politics.

I personally feel that the Maha Vikas Aghadi will have to afresh struggle very hard to retain whatever lead they have got in their favour in this (Lok Sabha) elections and the BJP also will have to work hard to overcome the hurdles.

As a result, both alliances are not going to perform according to their performances in the Lok Sabha. Both will have to work very hard.

I won't be surprised if Ajit recovers suddenly and Shinde does better and Uddhav also does better.

I'm challenging their (the MVA's) extrapolation (of 30 Lok Sabha seats translating into victory in 180 assembly seats).

In Maharashtra there have been assertions by leaders belonging to the NCP (SP) that 18 to 19 Ajit Pawar MLAs are planning to move back to the NCP (SP) and there are also murmurs that MLAs supporting Eknath Shinde too are planning to move back to SS-UBT.
How do you think this equation will play out as we move towards the assembly elections?

I don't think anybody from the Shinde camp will now check into the SS-UBT camp. Shinde's strike rate in this election has been very impressive. He won seven out of the 15 he contested.

Uddhav's strike rate is not better than that -- he won nine seats out of 21 he contested. Therefore, I do not think that there will be any special attraction for the Shinde Sena (MLAs) to join the Thackeray Sena.

But that is not the issue.

The issue is Thackeray has (won huge) sympathy and support across Maharashtra and that support is quite large even among the constituents who are not core supporters of that party.

Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena today has huge sympathy among the Dalits, Muslims and Christians unlike that of Shinde and Ajit Pawar. That does not mean that all this cosmopolitan support or sympathy for Uddhav Thackeray will automatically convert into votes.

But even if they are not converted into votes, the attraction for the Sena (UBT) is much more than that of Shinde Sena.

Uddhav has also acquired tremendous amount of respectability (among all sections of Maharashtra's electorate) than any other politician in Maharashtra today.

Therefore, I don't see any reason for any further splits in any of the two Senas or NCPs in Maharashtra.

The MLAs of Ajit's NCP know that Sharad Pawar for them is past and Ajit Pawar is their future. But that does not mean that the future will attract all the votes and therefore Ajit will become extremely strong. He will be definitely stronger than what he was in the Lok Sabha election.

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PRASANNA D ZORE / Rediff.com
 
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024