Even though the day of reckoning for Maharashtra and Haryana state politics came and went by without much of a hiccup, it is likely that the eventualities will pan out only as the votes are counted and results declared. The high-voltage, exhaustive election campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi (25 rallies in 10 days) in both states is expected to reap dividends, as outlined by opinion polls by various agencies.
Advantage BJP notwithstanding, the five-cornered contest, with BJP, Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS), Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the fray in Maharashtra, it certainly will be a very different scenario from the last 15 years, which had seen a Congress-NCP combine trudging along for three consecutive terms. Evidently, regime change is on the cards, with BJP confident of obtaining a landslide of 145 out of 288 seats, either by itself or with the help of its belligerent and now reluctant ally Shiv Sena.
Despite the relatively damp voter turnout, with only 55 per cent in Maharashtra this year (as compared to 59 per cent in 2009 assembly polls), there’s a definite ‘post-Congress’ moment that can be felt across the length and breadth of India. The Modi impact could be felt with the unexpected by-poll defeat now possibly taken care of and BJP resurgence in these two Congress heartlands now almost a certainty. Perhaps a repeat of Lok Sabha election results is in the pipeline and the Congress has already hung up its boots, it seems, with both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi addressing only a handful of campaign rallies.
Even in Haryana, chances of incumbent Congress chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda making it once again are rather slim. His decade in the helm in the state has been likewise characterised by as much corruption as was the former Ashok Chavan government in Maharashtra. The change of scene in Haryana will probably see the now jailed OP Chautala’s INLD wrangling with BJP, and the young guns in the latter party, particularly Captain Abhimanyu, former army officer and a popular Jat leader, are likely to prop it up well. Haryana has seen a stellar voter turnout, with over 76 per cent thronging to cast their vote, evidently hankering for change in the northern state. Whether or not BJP manages a simple majority, the takeaway from the state polls will be ever-deepening political penetration of Modi-led BJP.