Maharashtra politics' famous five and what Verdict 2024 means for them

The Congress emerged as the single largest party with 13 seats, making a strong comeback in Vidarbha, while 84-year-old Sharad Pawar maintained his strong grip on western Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray (Second from the Left), Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole (Left) and NCP chief Sharad Pawar (Centre) during a Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) press conference in Mumbai.
Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray (Second from the Left), Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole (Left) and NCP chief Sharad Pawar (Centre) during a Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) press conference in Mumbai.Photo | Shiv Sena UBT 'X' handle

The Lok Sabha results from Maharashtra that saw the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) win an impressive 30 seats and gain support from an Independent MP will have significant implications for all major parties and leaders in the state.

These results serve as a lesson both for the MVA alliance and their rivals, the Mahayuti.

The outcome has strengthened the position of Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde while weakening his two deputies, who underperformed.

The Congress emerged as the single largest party with 13 seats, making a strong comeback in Vidarbha, while 84-year-old Sharad Pawar maintained his strong grip on western Maharashtra.

Uddhav Thackeray emerged as the King of Mumbai but lost battles against main rival Shinde in Thane, Kalyan and several other areas.

A deeper dive to look at Maharashtra politics' famous five and the implications Verdict 2024 holds for them:

CM Eknath Shinde

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde led his Shiv Sena faction to wins in seven out of the 15 Lok Sabha seats they contested.

The results have solidified Shinde's position in the government, making it unlikely that he will be replaced, and can make him a prominent player in the new NDA coalition too.

With the BJP only securing 240 Lok Sabha seats, Shinde's seven seats are crucial and ensure that there will be no pushback against him from the BJP.

Shinde has established himself as a better election manager than his two deputies, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, who failed to deliver for their parties.

Shinde's Shiv Sena secured a 12.95% vote share.

Significantly, his candidates won all seven seats in which they were in a direct fight against Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena (UBT) candidates.

Shinde ensured the victory of his son, Dr Shrikant Eknath Shinde, in the Kalyan Lok Sabha seat by a margin of 209144 votes against Thackeray’s candidate.

He also secured victory for Naresh Mhaske in Thane. Although he is no orator, Shinde has proven to be a good organiser and election manager, ensuring the victory of his candidates in challenging fights.

He is expected to bargain hard during seat-sharing talks ahead of the upcoming state assembly elections.

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray (Second from the Left), Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole (Left) and NCP chief Sharad Pawar (Centre) during a Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) press conference in Mumbai.
The Eknath Shinde story: Former auto driver who changed the game in Maharashtra politics

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis emerged as the biggest loser in the election, despite not being a contestant himself.

The BJP's tally in Maharashtra dropped from 23 seats in both the 2014 Lok Sabha election and the 2019 election to just nine this time around.

Ahead of the polls, Fadnavis had promised his party leadership at least 30 seats but such was the drop in seats that he was compelled to offer his resignation as Deputy Chief Minister. Despite PM Narendra Modi's efforts, including 17 rallies, the BJP failed to secure wins in key constituencies.

Fadnavis, once a promising leader, faces an uncertain political future now. He has faced many setbacks, including being demoted from Chief Minister to Deputy Chief Minister to accommodate Eknath Shinde.

Additionally, unrest among the Maratha community affected his campaign efforts. Tellingly, he was the only BJP leader who was asked not to come for campaigning in certain constituencies due to resentment among the Marathas against him.

The shock results have weakened his position. At 53 years of age, time, though, is on his side.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar

Ajit Pawar's NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) had a poor 25% strike rate, winning only one out of four-contested seats.

A significant setback was the younger Pawar's failure to secure victory for his wife, Sunetra Pawar, in his home turf of Baramati against Supriya Sule, his niece and Sharad Pawar's daughter. Five years ago, he had seen his son lose a Lok Sabha election from Maval.

The latest setbacks have raised questions about his leadership and weakened his position within the party and the government.

There are indications that 10-15 NCP MLAs may reconsider their support for Ajit Pawar, potentially realigning with Sharad Pawar to secure their political futures. On June 6, five MLAs from his camp decided to skip the party meeting.

Ajit Pawar's bargaining power with the BJP will likely diminish after these results. Will he look at a ghar wapsi to the Sharad Pawar camp is a question doing the rounds already.

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray (Second from the Left), Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole (Left) and NCP chief Sharad Pawar (Centre) during a Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) press conference in Mumbai.
Even Lord Brahma won't be able to predict Lok Sabha outcome this time around, says Ajit Pawar

Sharad Pawar

At 84, Sharad Pawar, the grand daddy of politicians in Maharashtra, has once again proven his acumen and led the NCP (SP) to wins in eight out of the ten seats they contested in Maharashtra.

It was the highest strike rate among prominent parties.

Pawar ensured that his daughter, Supriya Sule, clinched the high-stakes battle in Baramati and achieved significant wins in the sugar and cooperative belt of western Maharashtra where he has reigned.

Two of his candidates Nilesh Lanke and Bajrang Sonawane emerged as giant killers in Ahmednagar and Beed constituencies respectively.

Two other candidates of his Balya Mama and Bhaskar Bhagare defeated BJP ministers Kapil Patil in Bhiwandi and Bharati Pawar in Dindori, an ST reserved seat.

It was not an easy fight at the beginning. But the older Pawar chose the right candidates and got the minutiae right.

He capitalised on Maratha angst and the simmering anger among onion farmers over the crash in prices and the import ban. His issue-based campaigning was a key factor in securing this famous win.

With friends across the political spectrum, Sharad Pawar will have an important role to play both at the Centre and in the state.

Uddhav Thackeray

Uddhav Thackeray was the face of the Maha Vikas Aghadi campaign, but the end result for him was a mixed one.

His Shiv Sena (UBT) won nine out of the 21 seats it contested.

Significantly, his men retained three out of four seats in Mumbai.

The only loss in Maximum City came in Mumbai North where Amol Gajanan Kirtikar was defeated by Shinde Sena candidate Ravindra Waikar, his ex-close aide. The margin was 48 votes. Did those voters mix up the symbols of the two Senas? We will never know!

But against this were losses in key battles in Kalyan, Thane, and Maval.

The victory margins of his candidates in Mumbai and other places were not satisfactory, and they only sailed through thanks to minority votes in the city. In purely Maratha dominated areas, his party fared badly.

His refusal to concede a seat like Sangli where Congress rebel Vishal Patil contested as an Independent and won and Uddhav's candidate ended up third was uncalled for.

Thackeray’s performance will affect seat-sharing negotiations in the upcoming state assembly elections. The Congress (which won 13 out of the 18 seats it contested) and Sharad Pawar's NCP will seek greater and more equal representation then.

The alliance partners though are not done with each other and they all know that they need to be together to continue the good showing. With MVA doing well, Uddhav might also succeed in luring back some of his lost flock from the Shinde camp.

He remains a crucial figure for MVA, known for his oratory and ability to develop a narrative against the opposition. However, he needs to correct past mistakes in candidate selection and rely less on the sympathy wave to improve his party’s performance against the rival Shinde Sena’s well-oiled machinery and candidates.

In this election itself, if Thackeray had planned better, the MVA could have won 35 seats. His leadership and strategic adjustments will be vital for MVA's success in future elections.

(Map and Chart: Immayabharathi K)

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