Maharashtra Elections: BJP stamps its authority in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena proven junior partner

BJP is all set to register its first back-to-back poll victory in Maharashtra assembly election

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BJP is all set to register its first back-to-back poll victory in Maharashtra assembly election. It crossed the half-way mark of 145 even before the trends for 250 seats were available in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.

The BJP-Shiv Sena settled for 164-124 seat-sharing formula for the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election. On the ground, the BJP fielded 150 candidates while 14 seats went to other constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Of these seats, the BJP was in the lead on 105 seats while the Shiv Sena was leading on 65 seats. This was the scene when trends for 272 of 288 seats in Maharashtra were available. When the trends for all seats came in, the figures changed marginally to give the BJP extra muscle. The BJP was leading at 110 seats while the Shiv Sena was in the lead at 65 seats.

The Congress-NCP alliance was leading on 75 seats with both the constituents showing almost the same strike rate. The Congress was leading at 34 seats while the NCP was ahead on 37. The two parties contested 125 seats each in Maharashtra.

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However, the real story that the Maharashtra election results seem to have, in all likelihood, settled the debate in the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance over who is the junior partner in the coalition. The BJP had fought the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly election on its own as the Shiv Sena had refused to accommodate the aspirations of the BJP.

The BJP put up candidates on 260 seats and won 122 of them. The Shiv Sena fielded candidates in all 282 constituencies in 2014 Maharashtra Assembly election and won 63 of them. This had come as a shocker to the Shiv Sena and a sense of vindication for the BJP.

In 2019 Lok Sabha election, the BJP and Shiv Sena contested almost equal number of seats. The BJP contested 25 Lok Sabha seats and won 23 while the Shiv Sena contested 23 seats and won 18 of them. The BJP's strike rate was far better than its partner in Shiv Sena.

When negotiation for a seat-sharing formula started between the BJP and the Shiv Sena for 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election, Uddhav Thackeray was said to have been reluctant to agree to junior status in the alliance in the state polls. Finally, they agreed for a broad formula where the BJP got 164 seats but had to accommodate other NDA constituents - notably the Republican Party of India of Ramdas Athawale - and the Shiv Sena secured 124 seats in the alliance.

The alliance between the BJP and the Shiv Sena has undergone a complete metamorphosis. In 1990, the Shiv Sena had got 183 seats in the alliance and given the BJP 105 seats. For long they had a 171-117 formula with the regional party Shiv Sena playing the senior partner.

In 2009, the BJP had the best share of 119 with 169 going the Shiv Sena in the seat-sharing formula for the Maharashtra Assembly election. The Shiv Sena, incidentally, had its worst performance in Shiv Sena winning only 44 seats. The BJP won two more finishing at 46.

Next time, they went to the Maharashtra Assembly election, the BJP had nourished its ambition and emerged as the single-largest party in 2014. The Shiv Sena later joined the alliance but its leadership was not yet mentally ready to play the junior partner to the BJP. The 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election seems to have settled that debate.