Karnataka effect: Maharashtra ruling, opposition alliances swing into action to woo electorate

The State government is giving a major push to awareness of welfare schemes, while the MVA constituents are planning joint rallies in the coming weeks.

Published : May 17, 2023 17:57 IST - 5 MINS READ

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde with Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to his right at a material distribution programme for women (under a welfare scheme) organised by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, in Mumbai on May 13.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde with Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to his right at a material distribution programme for women (under a welfare scheme) organised by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, in Mumbai on May 13. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Karnataka Assembly election results are likely to have a significant impact on near-term politics in neighbouring Maharashtra, going by the course correction already made by the major players—the ruling Shiv Sena (Shinde)-BJP alliance and the principal opposition alliance, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA).

The BJP came to power in Karnataka in 2019 by poaching 13 Congress and three JD(S) MLAs. In Maharashtra, it similarly brought down the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government in 2022; a total of 40 MLAs from the Shiv Sena joined rebel leader Eknath Shinde and the BJP formed the government with this faction.

The three main issues that were decisive factors against the BJP government in Karnataka were perception of corruption, unemployment, and inflation. In Maharashtra too, the Uddhav Thackeray camp has constantly levelled allegations against Shinde and his 40 MLAs, saying they switched sides after receiving Rs.50 crore each. Unemployment and inflation are burning issues all over the country. MVA leaders have consistently raised both issues in all their rallies, joint and separate.

Criticism of State government

Recently, the Congress and the Shiv Sena (UBT) staged protests across the State over the high price of cooking gas cylinders. Recently, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and MLA Aaditya Thackeray slammed the Shinde-led State government for letting mega infrastructure projects to go to other States and not taking follow-up action in projects such as Foxconn Vedanta, the Bulk Drugs Park, and the Tata Airbus C-295 aircraft project.

These three projects were together expected to bring a total investment of Rs 1.8 lakh crore and generate over 2 lakh jobs.

Another important point of similarity between Karnataka and Maharashtra is the sentiment of sub-nationalism. The Nandini versus Amul milk controversy turned the Karnataka election into a paradigm of sub-nationalist politics, wherein Karnataka pride was ignited over the alleged imposition of products from other States. Uddhav Thackeray is likely to invoke the issue of the breaking of the Shiv Sena and industries leaving Maharashtra ahead of crucial elections.

These similarities were discussed in Maharashtra’s power corridors on the day of Karnataka election results. The ruling alliance realised the intensity of the situation. Sources from Shiv Sena (Shinde) told Frontline that “very soon, necessary steps for course correction will be taken”.

Focus on welfare schemes

Naresh Mhaske, chief spokesperson of Shiv Sena (Shinde),said: “We are taking special efforts to inform the people about the number of schemes started by our government. For example, there is the Shetkari Kisan Samman Yojana, which gives Rs.6,000 to each farmer per year. We are sure that these efforts will have a positive impact in Maharashtra.”

The State government has decided to aggressively implement the Centre’s and its own welfare schemes. It is primarily focusing on women and youth. The government has already announced 50 per cent concession for all women passengers in State transportation buses. The advertisement campaign of this move will be more aggressive in the coming days.

The State government has also started aggressively pushing the ‘ABHA card’ scheme, through which the government offers complete medical check-up for women of all ages as well as check-up for men above 18. The government will likely plan a special awareness campaign of this scheme in the near future.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar with Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders Uddhav Thackeray and Sanjay Raut, and others, during a MVA meeting in Mumbai on May 14.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar with Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders Uddhav Thackeray and Sanjay Raut, and others, during a MVA meeting in Mumbai on May 14. | Photo Credit: ANI

Opposition unites

On the other hand, the opposition MVA alliance sensed the opportunity in the situation after the Karnataka results. MVA leaders including NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, and Congress leaders such as Nana Patole and Ashok Chavan met for the first time in months. They also decided to put up a united front for the the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. The MVA was in tatters in the last two months, with differences between all three parties coming out into the open.

Nana Patole, Shiv Sena (Uddhav) MP Sanjay Raut and the NCP’s Ajit Pawar had made strong statements against each other’s parties. Also, after Uddhav Thackeray did not get relief from the Supreme Court and ambiguity prevailed over Ajit Pawar’s position within the NCP, it was widely perceived that the MVA would not be keep its flock together.

The MVA had even cancelled its planned rallies in Pune, Kolhapur, Nashik, and Amaravati abruptly, citing the heat wave in the State. But the Karnataka results pumped confidence into MVA leaders. Now they have declared that joint rallies would be held in the coming weeks.

After a meeting of MVA leaders, NCP State chief Jayant Patil said: “The people of Karnataka have given a clear mandate to the Congress, rejecting the BJP’s abuse of power. Similarly, voters in Maharashtra are waiting for election day. The Shinde-BJP government will be rejected by the people unambiguously.”

Seat-sharing talks

The alliance leaders have also decided to start seat-sharing talks for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. The Maharashtra Assembly’s term ends in October 2024. Sanjay Raut said: “There will be a six-member committee of the MVA to discuss seat-sharing. This committee will start meeting regularly and we are hoping that the talks will be over soon.”

A senior Congress leader, who wished to remain anonymous, told Frontline that the lack of aggression and innovation in the MVA was the alliance’s major drawback. He said, “The Congress came up with innovative campaign like PayCM in Karnataka. It was a blend of aggression and innovation. Where is such kind of a campaign against Shinde-Fadnavis? Rather, our leaders are not even seen as fighting against the State government. Why would people vote for us if we are so lethargic?”

Vijay Chormare, a senior journalist,said: “Today the  situation is almost like Karnataka. But the Maharashtra Assembly election will take place after the general election, if it goes according to schedule. So, the political equations pre- and post-Lok Sabha would be different completely.”

Maharashtra, with 48 Lok Sabha seats, is the second largest State after Uttar Pradesh. The NDA had won 43 in 2014. The BJP and undivided Shiv Sena together won 42 seats in 2019. Maintaining that tally in 2024 will be an important task for the BJP.

Sign in to Unlock member-only benefits!
  • Bookmark stories to read later.
  • Comment on stories to start conversations.
  • Subscribe to our newsletters.
  • Get notified about discounts and offers to our products.
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment