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Maharashtra

Maharashtra Polling began on 11 November 2019 in all 288 Assembly constituencies of Maharashtra where 3,237 candidates, including 235 women. Prominent candidates include Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis from Nagpur South-West, and his predecessors from the Congress Ashok Chavan, who is contesting from Bhokar in Nanded district, and Prithviraj Chavan, who is seeking a re-election from Karad South in Satara district.

The BJP, under Fadnavis leadership, was seeking a second straight term in the state. Aaditya Thackeray, the son of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, also entered the poll fray from Worli constituency in Mumbai. The 29-year-old Yuva Sena chief was the first member from his family to make a debut in electoral politics. Voting is also underway for the byelection to Satara Lok Sabha constituency, where former NCP leader and sitting MP Udayanraje Bhosale is in the fray on BJPs ticket against Shriniwas Patil of the Congress-NCP combine.

The BJP fielded its nominees in 164 Assembly seats, including candidates of smaller allies contesting on its lotus symbol, while the Sena was contesting 124 seats. On the other hand, the opposition Congress fielded 147 candidates and its ally NCP 121.

The main contest was between the Mahayuti or grand alliance led by the BJP, and the maha-aghadi (front) led by the Congress and NCP. Among other parties, the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has fielded 101 candidates. As many as 1,400 Independents are also in the fray.

The state has total 8,98,39,600 voters, including 1,06,76,013 in the age group of 18 to 25 years. Nearly 6.5 lakh polling personnel have been deployed at 96,661 polling booths across the state. Around 1,35,021 VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) machines have also been installed. Of the 288 constituencies, Nanded-South seat has the maximum 38 candidates, while Chiplun in Ratnagiri district has just three nominees.

In the 2014 elections, the BJP won 122 seats, the Shiv Sena-63, the Congress-42 and the NCP-41. Later, two by-elections were held due to death of MLAs Krushna Ghoda (Palghar) and Bala Sawant (Bandra-East). The Sena manged to retain both the seats. In the run-up to the polls, several legislators of the Congress and NCP switched sides to the ruling BJP and Sena. Some of them also managed to get tickets for the ongoing polls.

Presidents rule was imposed in the state on November 12 after no party or combine staked claim to form the new government. The state was plunged into a political crisis after the Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief ministers post. The BJP and Sena, which fought the Assembly polls in alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Assembly. The Congress and the NCP, pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats, respectively. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said his party wont side with the BJP even if offered Lord Indras throne. Congress and NCP said their smaller allies have backed the idea of forming a government in Maharashtra with the Shiv Sena to keep its estranged ally BJP out of power in the state.

There was consensus in the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray should lead the new government in Maharashtra, NCP president Sharad Pawar said on 22 November 2019. Pawars announcement capped a day of hectic meetings between the Congress, NCP and their pre-poll allies and a combined meeting of the three parties later in the day. Emerging from the marathon meeting of top leaders of the Congress, the NCP and the Sena, who are making efforts to form government in Maharashtra, Pawar said there was a consensus on Thackerays leadership.

Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi made a pitch for ending communalism in the country. The Shiv Sena will have to tweak some of its policies if it wants our supportwe will have to form the government to obliterate communalism, he said, adding the prospective government should be fair to Dalits, minorities, farmers and the weak. Terming the alliance among Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress as opportunistic, senior BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari said that even if they formed the government in Maharashtra, it will not last beyond six to eight months.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19 February 2018 opened the Magnetic Maharashtra summit in the presence of national and international business leaders including Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani, Anand Mahindra and Richard Branson in Mumbai. Praising the Maharashtra government's efforts to improve infrastructure by building, metros, highways and airports, PM Modi said, "We believe potential, policy, planning, performance and leads to progress. That's why today new highways, railway lines housing projects, I can add fifty more things, are being built at three times the speed than what it was earlier.... I am pleased the state government has decided to make the state the country's first trillion dollar economy. In Chhatrapati Shivaji's place, it is not difficult to achieve any goal".



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