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Maharashtra: With NCP’s Ajit Pawar moving to Eknath govt, What next for MVA, Congress?

New Delhi: Another dramatic chapter unfolded in Maharashtra on Sunday with a faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) following Ajit Pawar to join Eknath-Fadnavis government in the state. With Shiv Sena loosing its MLAs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when Eknath Shide took oath as the state Chief Minister and many from NCP joining […]

Edited By : Pranjal Gupta | Updated: Jul 2, 2023 22:59 IST
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Congress

New Delhi: Another dramatic chapter unfolded in Maharashtra on Sunday with a faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) following Ajit Pawar to join Eknath-Fadnavis government in the state.

With Shiv Sena loosing its MLAs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when Eknath Shide took oath as the state Chief Minister and many from NCP joining the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, it appears to be a chance for the Congress to once again have the spotlight on it.

Ajit Pawar who was also a Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Maharashtra Assembly had offered his resignation a few days citing that he wanted to work for the party. However, after going against the NCP chief Sharad Pawar and taking oath as Deputy CM, it is the Congress who has the maximum seats (Opposition parties) in the state Assembly.

The Indian National Congress, who had reportedly faded away from the Maharashtra Politics during Modi-wave in 2014, have 44 sitting MLAs in the Assembly currently. Thus, it could once again play the big brother role in the Opposition alliance.

Long Term Benefits To Congress

The new addition in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Maharashtra cuts competition for the Congress with regional parties. Taking examples of recent elections, the Congress has done well in the states where it was in direct competition with the Bharatiya Janata Party such as Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, in the states like Punjab, Congress had to taste defeat as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or other parties had cut the anti-BJP votes; and eventually, the AAP made its government with Bhagwant Mann as the Chief Minister.

MVA Era

Following the downfall of Devendra Fadnavis’ government in the state in 2019, the Maha Vikas Agadhi (MVA) was constituted — an alliance formed with the support of NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress. Following which, Uddhav Thackeray took oath as the new CM and Ajit Pawar as his deputy.

At that time, the grand-old party went to the backfoot considering the growing support for the regional parties i.e. Shiv Sena and NCP. Even after with the tag of a national party, the Congress did not have any leader on the two crucial posts.

Anti-Incumbency and Modi Factor

Prior to 2014, the Congress was in the state government for 15 years — 1999-2014 with Prithviraj Chavan as its last Chief Minister. The Congress lost to the saffron party in 2014 following two major factors — Narendra Modi and Anti-Incumbency.

What’s in store for Opposition in 2024?

There has been a drastic change in the mathathematics of seat sharing in the Maharashtra Assembly since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assumed power in the state.

Earlier in 2019, BJP became the single largest party after winning 105 seats in the Assembly of total 288 seats. On the other hand, Shiv Sena had 56 seats, NCP had 54, Congress on 44 seats, while there were 29 MLAs from other parties.

Also Read: To contest all elections in name of NCP only: Ajit Pawar

However, the scenario has changed since then or still changing, including the Shiv Sena episode. As of now, BJP and Congress managed to have the same seats while, the outlook of Shiv Sena and NCP in the state Assembly has changed.

After the Shiv Sena split, Uddhav Thackeray faction reduced to 12 seats in the Assembly, while Eknath Shinde group had 44 sitting MLAs. With the support of these 44 MLAs, Eknath Shinde made the government with BJP, resulting in the downfall of the MVA.

NCP’s current sitting MLA are 53 in number. However, today’s slugfest has left everything hanging in the air.

It’s unclear if the whole NCP will sink into the state government or the party chief Sharad Pawar will make a move against the rebel leaders, which is quite like an option after the reports surfaced that Jitendra Awhad will be declared as new LoP.

Also Read: NCP leader Jitendra Awhad likely to be new LoP in Maharashtra Assembly: Reports

BJP plus allies vs Congress plus allies 

With all the plus-minus, it comes down to BJP vs Congress once again in Maharashtra. As per the current calculations, Eknath Shinde-led faction is sharing power with BJP already, while NCP’s chunk also took oath as ministers today.

On the other hand, there are the foundational parties of Shiv Sena and NCP who are left with lesser MLAs but still having the strong public appeal. In this scenario, a revived Congress appears to be the only party the only principal Opposition party to stand neck-to-neck with the BJP in 2024.

First published on: Jul 02, 2023 07:05 PM IST

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