Lok Sabha Polls 2024: Whom will the Maharashtra voters choose ?

By Manjunath K. Shresthi

March 29, 2024


Maharashtra located in western India is a progressive agrarian and industrial state. Mumbai is the country’s financial capital and also home to Bollywood. The state has some of the richest industrialists and politicians in the country.

The state has 288 assembly segments with 48 Lok Sabha seats. It’ has the second highest number of Lok Sabha seats after Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats. It goes to the assembly polls later this year in 2024. The state’s politics is dominated by: BJP, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena (SS) along with other political parties. Post the results of the 2019 assembly polls, the Shiv Sena-BJP split and the Shiv Sena became part of Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA). Uddhav Thackeray became the Chief Minister after an alliance was stitched with the Congress, and the NCP led by Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar. Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) was in power from 2019 till June 2022.

Politics in the state was easy to understand till 2022, but has now become confusing for the common man. The state witnessed political upheavals from June 2022 onwards when the Shiv Sena (SS) faced a vertical split, and MLAs walked away from Uddhav Thackeray led Sena. Eknath Shinde became the next Chief Minister in alliance with the BJP, and then began a long battle with Shiv Sena, as to which of them was the original Sena? As luck would have it, Eknath Shinde’ led faction after eight months got the original bow-and-arrow symbol from the Election Commission of India (ECI) and known as ‘Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena’. The Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balsaheb Thackeray) now has the flaming torch (mashaal) as the party symbol and abbreviated as Shiv Sena (UBT).

Sharad Pawar led NCP too faced similar rebellion by nephew Ajit ‘Dada’ Pawar who’ split the party, and is now the Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) of Maharashtra. The ECI recognised Ajit Pawar’s faction as the real NCP, and it got the clock symbol. Sharad Pawar led NCP got the poll symbol of man playing tutari (trumpet) and NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) as the new name. The parties (and symbols) founded by late Balasaheb Thackeray and by Sharad Pawar have been snatched and conveniently handed over to the rebels. The new political parties are now known as SS (UBT) and NCP (SCP) respectively.

The voters of the state in the previous elections had national and regional parties to choose and vote as per their preferences. But for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, they have problem of plenty as they have +2 regional parties to choose from.

Voters in the state of Maharashtra now have less clarity, as some of the parties they previously voted for have split and become separate parties with similar names. The voter’s confusion can cause political instability, and the parties contesting the elections will not have the advantage they had before. The fate of national and regional parties will be decided by ‘Janata Janardhan’ and hope that they vote wisely keeping in mind the larger interests of Maharashtra. The state goes to polls in five phases beginning April 19.

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