Congress did make a comeback post 1995 era of non-Congress Govt’s, but never on its own

By Prashant Hamine

 

Mumbai: The 1995 Assembly elections marked a turning point in the electoral history of the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha. For the first time a non-Congress government, a Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance government came to power, even beyond the wildest imaginations of die-hard Congressmen. Although the Sena dominated late Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray “remote controlled”  “Shiv Shahi” government as it was called then, was dependent on the crutches of the 45 Independent MLAs, but it did survive almost its full term.

 

The 2014 Assembly elections almost came close to wiping out that concept of coalition governments. But it did establish the serious credentials of the BJP and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for having successfully run non-Congress government with Sena support and that which lasted its full five year term. Sena chief minister Manohar Joshi was forced to resign four years into his term. While, Narayan Rane his Sena successor also got just nine months of remaining tenure before the term of the 1995 Assembly was prematurely terminated in 1999 amidst BJPs misplaced jingoism of “Shinning India”.

 

A electorate of 5.50 crore decided the fate of 4,714 contestants. What is more significant to note that the overall polling percentage of 71.69 percent, is still the highest polling percentage ever recorded so far.

Almost 36 political parties participated in the 1995 elections that was held on March 9, 1995. A electorate of 5.50 crore decided the fate of 4,714 contestants. What is more significant to note that the overall polling percentage of 71.69 percent, is still the highest polling percentage ever recorded so far. The election was also known for then Sena young turk Bala Nandgaonkar trouncing Sena’s arch rival Chhagan Bhujbal, (then Congress) from Mazgaon assembly constituency.

 

The election however threw a hung house with Congress getting 80 seats, Sena 73 seats, BJP 65 seats, Independent’s getting 45 seats, Janata Dal 11 seats, PWPI 6 seats and Samajwadi Party 3 seats. It forced the Sena-BJP to stich an coalition government with the support of the 45 Independent MLAs who made the Sena-BJP dance to their tune.

 

The early assembly election of 1999 saw the emergence of yet another new political outfit the Sharad Pawar led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which had split from the Congress barely months before the elections. From the 1999 assembly elections, the Congress-NCP began their 15 long years of Democratic Front government rule which ended in 2014. In this 15 year-long regime the Congress changed its chief minister’s six times. The elections that were held on September 11, 1999 again threw up a hung verdict with Congress winning 75 seats, Sena 69 seats, NCP 58 seats, BJP 56 seats and 12 Independent MLAs. A electorate of 5.68 crore voted in the polls and the polling percentage was 60.95 percent.

 

In all 7.59 crore voters had cast their ballot in the elections that were held on October 13, recording a polling percentage of 59.50 percent. It was by far the longest election, considering that the counting of votes began on October 22 and the final results were declared four days later on October 25.

Before the 2004 Assembly elections, then Sena’s leader of opposition in the lower house Narayan Rane and BJP’s late Gopinath Munde made an unsuccessful bid to topple the Vilasrao Deshmukh government in 2003. The 2004 elections was known more for the surprise election of underworld don Arun Gawli from Chinchpokli constituency, and eventually Rane leaving the Sena and joining the Congress.

 

The polls also marked the advent of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). It was also the election which saw the entry of Hitendra Thakur (Vasai) and Suresh alias Pappu Kalani (Ulhasnagar) into the house. The 2004 elections again had given a fractured mandate, with the NCP getting 71 seats, Congress 69 seats, Sena 62 seats, BJP 54 seats and 19 Independent’s. Despite the NCP winning 3 seats more than the Congress, it did not stake claim to the Chief Ministers post which came back to Vilasrao Deshmukh. In all 6.59 crore voters cast their ballot, recording a polling percentage of 63.44 percent.

 

The 2009 assembly election was yet another interesting election. Raj Thackeray left the Shiv Sena and formed his own Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) before the polls. Secondly, the delimitation of assembly constituencies had happened around 2007 which completely altered the geographical boundaries of some constituencies, while obliterating some altogether. Raj Thackeray extracted a sweet revenge on the Sena by winning 13 seats and denting Sena’s hopes of regaining power.

 

The MNS was successful in splitting the Sena-BJP vote bank which made the return of the Congress-NCP government back to power all that easy. The Congress won 82 seats, the NCP 62 seats, the BJP 46 seats and Sena 44 seats. In all 7.59 crore voters had cast their ballot in the elections that were held on October 13, recording a polling percentage of 59.50 percent. It was by far the longest election, considering that the counting of votes began on October 22 and the final results were declared four days later on October 25.

 

It was an assembly which saw the taint of corruption forcing the Congress to remove Ashok Chavan as its chief minister in the alleged Adarsh housing society scam. The Congress had similarly ousted A R Antulay from the post in 1982 in the infamous cement scandal. The third Congress chief minister to vacate his post was Shivajirao Nilangekar who was made to resign in 1986 after being found guilty of influencing academic result of his daughter.

 

The 2014 Assembly elections sent a scare amongst the 90 odd political parties that took part in it, because of the introduction of the “None Of The Above (NOTA)” vote button on the EVM. It gave the right to the voter to reject the contesting candidates, if he or she did not like any of them. It also saw the Third Gender getting their voting rights, being recognized as the third gender. Besides this, the Hyderabad based Asaduddin Owaisi’s party MIM finally making its entry into the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha, winning 2 seats. The elections also saw the MNS which was flying high in 2009 polls, come crashing down winning just one seat.

 

It was an election in which BJP and Sena severed their two decade old electoral alliance and it impacted the Congress and NCP more. The BJP fell short of the majority mark by 20 odd seats, eventually winning 122 seats, the Sena won 63 seats, the Congress 42 seats and the NCP 41 seats. Fadnavis and BJP finally managed the then main opposition party the Sena to join the government. In all 8.35 crore voters, that included 972 Third Gender had voted, registering a voting percentage of 63.08 percent. The polling was held on October 15, results were declared on October 19 and Fadnavis took oath as the 19th chief minister of Maharashtra on October 31, 2014.

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