Maharashtra is all geared up for the much-awaited Assembly elections, the schedule for which was announced by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora in New Delhi on Saturday.
The 12-crore people in Maharashtra will elect 288 new representatives to the state legislature in the polls to be held on October 21 and the counting scheduled on October 24.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena and thier allies will make a bid to recapture power, while the Opposition Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will make a determined effort to dislodge it.
However, both the alliances were still blowing hot and cold over their proposed alliances, but assure their tie-ups are ‘finalised’ and will be announced shortly. It is expected that both the alliance will be declared early next week.
The Shiv Sena has demanded 135 seats from the BJP, which is reluctant to part with more seats to safeguard its position and avoid any tug-of-war for the coveted post of Chief Minister in case they are voted back to office.
Besides, 18 seats are expected to be allotted to the allies- Republican Party of India (A), Shiv Sangram Party, Rashtriya Samaj Party and Swabhimani Party.
The BJP is reportedly keen that the smaller allies contest the polls on its (‘Lotus’) symbol for better winning prospects.
Emaciated by the string of nearly three dozen important leaders, the Opposition Congress-NCP are virtually clear on contesting 125 seats each, leaving the rest for other allies, who are clamouring for more.
In 2014, both the two major alliances had fallen apart and contested the Assembly elections independently, though they had contested the Lok Sabha polls earlier that year jointly.
While the Shiv Sena sat in the Opposition with the Congress-NCP for around a month, it later ‘defected’ to the ruling side and the saffron combined remained in office for the full five year term.
“I appeal to all the people in the state to exercise their franchise to strengthen democracy. The people have a right to elect the government of their choice as per their expectations,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Saturday.
He also urged all political parties to make the minimum use of plastic during campaigns, even as the Model Code of Conduct went into effect on Saturday.
NCP national spokesperson and Mumbai chief Nawab Malik welcomed the poll schedule and urged the Election Commission of India (ECI), fair and transparent elections.