The battle for power in Maharashtra assembly polls, likely in September or first half of October, could boil down to just 45-50 seats, major political parties estimate. Of the 288 assembly seats in the state, the parties are more or less certain about the outcome in 235 to 240 constituencies, sources informed. Chief minister Ashok Chavan and state Congress president Manikrao Thakre have listed out 240 constituencies which are likely to post expected results, a senior Congress leader informed. Each of the four major outfits – Congress, BJP, Shiv Sena, and NCP – has its own safe seat on this list, Congress sources said. The Congress study of all 288 constituencies, done soon after the Lok Sabha polls, gives 80-85 “sure-shot” seats to the party projecting it as the single-largest outfit. It says the Congress is comfortably placed to win 80-85 seats and has fairly reasonable prospects in another 10-15 segments. This pre-poll arithmetic leaves out 45 to 50 seats that none of these parties is sure to win. These are the seats in Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and Pune, where Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) could play an important role, the analysis says. In the wake of the Lok Sabha polls in which the MNS helped the Congress-NCP win at least 10 seats by eating into the Sena-BJP votes, the Congress is satisfied with this analysis. It is based on the premise that the Congress-NCP and BJP-Sena contest the polls as two alliances. Sources said around 240 constituencies in the state won’t spring any surprises. The Congress has some traditionally-strong assembly segments which it will retain in all probability. The Congress is said to have a feeling that the NCP might improve its chances and the MNS factor might work either way. It might help Congress-NCP in a big way or just end up being a spoiler in some segments. The survey, however, is certain about the Congress-NCP coming back to power.
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