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Congress-NCP grapple with post-election blues

A key part of the Congress-NCP strategy in 2019 was to not repeat the 2014 mistakes.

ET Bureau|
May 28, 2019, 08.52 AM IST
NCP Chief Sharad Pawar
Mumbai: In Maharashtra, both Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress is grappling with one crucial question: How did they fail to win the votes of their alliance partners as they struggled to counter the Modi wave? The NCP has called for its executive meet on January 1 in Mumbai. Meanwhile, the Congress is leaderless after the resignation of its state chief Ashok Chavan.

A key part of the Congress-NCP strategy in 2019 was to not repeat the 2014 mistakes. So, Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) was roped in.

PWP had put up a candidate in Raigad where NCP’s Sunil Tatkare was contesting against Shiv Sena’s Anant Geete. The latter won by just 2,000-odd votes. The PWP candidate got 1.29 lakh votes, so the NCP’s reasoning was that PWP’s entry would ensure its candidate’s victory. “Even assuming there was no anti-incumbency, the very fact that the PWP was with us, we would easily win by a massive margin as we felt that the 1.29 lakh votes of PWP would come to us,” said a NCP leader. However, that did not happen. Tatkare did win but by just 31,000 votes. What NCP encountered in Raigad was felt by Congress in Mumbai and many other regions.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) was not formally part of the alliance but Raj Thackeray campaigned aggressively against BJP. In many seats, like Mumbai South where Congress leader Milind Deora was facing Arvind Sawant, MNS cadre was openly leading the campaign for Congress. Yet when the results finally came out, the MNS votes did not shift to the Congress or the NCP.

“We have to find out why, maybe they didn’t like our policies or maybe they thought the BJP was better in handling national security or it could be the Modi wave, what is shocking is that the vote transfer for us has been negligible while the votes from the BJP supporters to candidates of the Sena has been total in spite of the Sena abusing Modi for the last 4.5 years,” said a Congress leader. A MNS leader told ET that their supporters have the Hindutva ideology at their core and wouldn’t go for the Congress and NCP. “This would change if we have an alliance with the Congress and NCP for the Maharashtra assembly polls, then votes would come to us,” said the MNS leader.
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