BJP set to retain power in Maharashtra


Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday appeared set to retain power in Maharashtra in alliance with the Shiv Sena possibly with lesser number of seats than expected and struggled to win majority on its own in Haryana which is headed for a hung assembly.

In Maharashtra, the BJP and the Shiv Sena led in around 155 of the state's 288 assembly seats, ten more than the majority mark. But the tally is still is way below the 250 seats the party was expecting. In fact, the party was hoping to cross the majority mark on its own but is leading in around 100 seats when the latest results of vote-count came in. In the previous assembly poll in 2014, the BJP’s tally was 122 seats.

The Shiv Sena’s performance was impressive and led in around 60 and set to do better than five years ago. The Congress and its alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party were ahead in 105 seats in Maharashtra. The results in Maharashtra will be seen as a setback for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who had set his eyes on returning with a bigger seat tally than in 2014. The BJP, in the run-up to the elections, had managed to ensure that the entire electoral narrative revolves around nationalism and national security.

In Haryana, the BJP looked all set to fail short of majority mark of 46 seats in the 90-seat assembly and Dushyant Chautala's regional party Jananayak Janata Party (JJP) could emerge as holding the key to future government formation. The BJP, as per the latest trends of vote-count, led in 40 seats in the state while the Congress was ahead in 30 seats.

In 2014, the BJP had won 47 seats captured power in Haryana while the Congress got 15 and was voted out of power in the state. What is worse for the BJP is that barring Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Health Minister Anil Vij, all other BJP cabinet ministers in Haryana stared at defeat.

The Congress has been buoyed by the trends in Haryana and reached out to Jannayak Janata Party to form a coalition government. "The way these trends are showing, it is clear people voted for change," Dushyant Chautala said. Former Haryana chief minister and senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda appealed to JJP and independent candidates who are winning to support Congress. “Haryana has given its mandate against BJP. Entire opposition must join hands to support Congress and form the government,” Hooda told media persons in Rohtak.

Congress' leader in Haryana Deepender Hooda said "want to tell Dushyant Chautala to come together with us. Each MLA of their party has been chosen to throw out BJP." He alleged the BJP is trying to pressurize Independents for support to form a new government. The BJP national headquarters in New Delhi here wore a subdued look for much of the day on Thursday as it emerged that the party's performance in Maharashtra and Haryana assembly polls fell well short of expectation.

The results of Maharashtra and Haryana means that in a large number of places concerns about economic slowdown and unemployment –the issues which were flagged by the Congress during the campaign--has angered the voters.