Maharashtra 2018 by-polls are set to take place on 25th June. The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is now on the rocks, with the latter’s announcement to go to elections alone. BJP’s more than agitated with Sena’s decision, thus bringing the upcoming elections on a cliff of power grab. This is an integral event for both parties for two very specific reasons and the complex relations between them has made it a risky affair.
Of its six assembly constituencies in Maharashtra, four are reserved for STs—Dahanu, Vikramgarh, Palghar, and Boisar. Tribals, who account for 37% of Palghar’s population, are concentrated in these four seats. In the previous elections, Chitaman Wanga a BJP minister and a popular figure in the Palghar community won over 50% of the votes, thus bringing two seats (out of four) to the party. The voters’ trust in Wanga would have probably brought BJP t power this time as well.
But after Wanga’s death, his son, joined the Sena, thus complicating the situation. Voters are now going to be polarised between Wanga’s party and his son’s party. While BJP has promised 100% development of the newly formed Palghar constituency, the Sena is banking on Wanga’s legacy, his son, to win the elections.
BJP vs Shiv Sena
The two major parties of Maharashtra have been at loggerheads ever since BJP won the previous assembly elections. The latter’s dismay and ill-treatment of Uddhav Thackeray and calling Shiv Sena an opposition, has hampered the party alliance. Of course, this alliance was one of the major reasons why BJP won the Maharashtra seat earlier, as Shiv Sena rallied its supporters to vote in favour of the former. One can thus imagine how disgruntled the Sena would be in the face of apathy from the BJP. In fact, “Shiv Sena’s back-stabbing” is one of the main campaign slogans of BJP.
Such treatment led to the Sena breaking the alliance to contest the 2018 elections independently. The upcoming elections will be a turning point for both parties. If the Sena wins it will reinforce the trust that the locals have in the home party. And if BJP wins, it will mean that Maharashtrian opinion is changing against the age-old Sena. Moreover, the loosely hanging alliance will definitely not happen in 2019.
While Sena is trying to retake power in their state, BJP’s desire to rule Maharashtra comes from its probable impact on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Here’s why.
Why are these elections risky for BJP
The way by-polls in Uttar Pradesh decided the course for the SP-BSP alliance for future elections, Maharashtra’s by-polls are going to decide the future course of the upcoming 2019 elections.
The BJP, which stormed to power with 282 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 has since lost several by-elections, resulting in its strength falling to 275. Winning the Palghar elections will help improve its tally. Let’s just say that after embarrassing defeats in UP and Karnataka, BJP can’t afford to lose more states, if it wants a chance to win in 2019.
But, just like UP, it is contesting against the local party which has been in power for decades. Cutting off relations with the party that brought you to power has made these elections a risky affair for BJP.