NEW DELHI: Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai said on Thursday that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s “less than expected” performance in Vidarbha and Marathwada was responsible for the saffron alliance’s disappointing results in the Maharashtra assembly election.
Responding to a question on why the BJP-Sena alliance is not leading in as many seats as expected—most exit polls had predicted over 200 seats for the combine—Desai told HuffPost India, “The BJP did not get the numbers it was expecting in Vidarbha and Marathwada.”
This could be because the ruling party did not meet “people’s expectations”, said Desai, a close confidante of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Desai’s statement is significant, as the BJP was expected to cross the halfway mark by itself, increasing its bargaining power over the Shiv Sena, which was a fractious ally that often played the role of the opposition in the last assembly. During the election campaign, the BJP had said it would win over 200 seats along with its junior alliance partner Shiv Sena. The Thackeray-led party contested in fewer seats but appears set to get better numbers than pollsters had predicted.
In the last assembly election, in 2014, the BJP had got 122 seats, while the Shiv Sena brought in 63.
“The BJP did not get the numbers it was expecting in Vidarbha and Marathwada.”Anil Desai, Shiv Sena leader
Desai added the caveat that counting was still going on and that the figures could increase.
He also emphasised that the Sena had fared better in comparison with the BJP. “We have done good. We are getting good response. Whatever we worked for farmers, people at large, floods, loan waiver, crop insurance and the journeys undertaken by Uddhav Thackeray and Aaditya Thackeray to reassure people without keeping elections in mind was liked by the people. People forget political memories but not personal touch,” he said.
When asked why Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s state-wide tour, billed as “Jan Ashirwad Yatra”, did not help the BJP, the Shiv Sena secretary said, “It is about people’s feelings and expectations. The BJP will have answers about it.”
The Nationalist Congress Party-Congress alliance of the opposition was trailing at 91 seats, with the former leading in 54 and latter in 37 seats, but is also set to give a better-than-expected performance.