MUMBAI: The Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra faces an uphill task of filling up the gap of around two crore votes to pose a formidable challenge to the ruling alliance.
In the Lok Sabha election earlier this year, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance got 51 perecent votes as against 32 percent of the Congress-NCP alliance. The difference accounts to around 1.71 crore votes. How to make up for this gap is a crucial question that the Congress-NCP leadership is currently battling.
Tying up with smaller allies is a route that the Congress-NCP alliance is currently contemplating. Adv Prakash Ambedkar's Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) had polled 41 lakh votes while other smaller parties and the independents were able to bag inall 14.6 percent votes. The BSP was a complete flop with less than one percent of the tally.
While the NCP has expressed willingness to join hands with VBA, Ambedkar on Tuesday announced a list of 22 candidates. The party will contest all the seats, he added making the task for Congress-NCP more difficult.
State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil is confident of retaining the vote share of the alliance if not increasing it. The issue of nationalism is expected to fetch majority of the 130 urban seats to the alliance, while the government's work on water and agriculture front is expected to appeal the rural voters more, he said while explaining the strategy of the alliance.
According to state BJP secretary Sanjay Phanje, if the Lok Sabha votes are to be converted into assembly seats, the BJP-Shiv Sena has upper hand in 232 segments while Congress is ahead on 19, NCP on 21 and 16 seats have smaller parties or independents in dominating position.
Senior Congress leader and leader of opposition Vijay Wadettivar, however, said that the Lok Sabha pattern won't work in assembly elections as this election will be contested on local issues.
Partywise votes of Lok Sabha election
BJP - 1.49 crore (27.6%)
Shiv Sena - 1.25 crore (23.3%)
Congress - 87.92 lakh (16.3%)
NCP - 83.87 lakh (15.5%)
Others - 78.65 lakh (14.6%)