anti-1The division of the anti-incumbency votes and the opposition’s inability to cash in on several burning issues resulted in the Congress-NCP win in Maharashtra. The ruling combine shrewdly ensured the splitting of the vote with two political manoeuvres-a tacit support to Raj Thackeray’s MNS as well as Ramdas Athavale’s Third Front. We bring to you an analytical report on how the Democratic Front’s tacit support to Raj Thackeray crippled the BJP-Shiv Sena. Now sources from within the Congress are admitting that their party did a lot of mobilization of people for the MNS’s first rally at Shivaji Park on March 19, 2006. After the build-up, the MNS did eat into some of the Congress-NCP votes, but overall its role was to cripple the Sena-BJP which it did with aplomb. The NCP’s backing of the Third Front – Ramdas Athavale’s personal equation with NCP Chief Sharad Pawar is well known-helped splinter the vote in general. The opposition also weakened its own case by failing to take up serious issues with which it could have turned the heat on the government. To begin with in the last ten years of Congress-NCP rule, 7,816 farmers in Vidarbha have ended their lives but yet this number of “Farmers’ Suicides” was not used to pin down the government. Apart from token protests, neither the Shiv Sena nor the BJP took up the issue even though the Union Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar, is from Maharashtra. Neither was the power crisis taken seriously though vast swathes of rural Maharashtra continue to reel under daily 12-hour power cuts. Again, Union Energy Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is from the state. Here too, the opposition, despite pointing out that the government had not added a single MW to its power generation in 10 years, staged only token protests. As Raj Thackeray observed wryly, “The Shiv Sena asked consumers not to pay Reliance Infrastructure’s electricity bills, but accepted the company’s ads in Saamna.” Inflation, the big ticket issue affecting every voter, was also ignored. In a state where the prices of onions, tur dal, tea that costs Rs. 9 in a rundown stall and just about everything else have shot up, there was no noise from the opposition. Mrinal Gore and Ahilya Rangnekar, who travelled by local trains and BEST buses and knew the pulse of the people. That made Shiv Sena popular with the masses. Now grass roots Shiv Sainiks are remembering such leaders and saying that present Shiv Sena-BJP leaders travel by Pajeros and Lexuses and are big builders. How can one expect them to understand the mood of the aam aadmi?” A shakha pramukh has gone on record to state that, “Shiv Sena could have been the Shah Rukh Khan of politics, but it has chosen to be Shakti Kapoor.” Bureau report – NMTV News.

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