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2009: A year of Congress triumph and MNS rise


Saturday, December 19, 2009 05:13:59 PM, UNI

The Hand Rules

Congress, Allies win the assembly election in all three states: Maharashtra’s ruling Congress-NCP alliance seems set to form its third successive government in the state as it has emerged as the largest political formation in the assembly elections held on October 13. Ditto is .... Read Full

Mumbai: It was a 'double triumph' for Congress in Maharashtra in 2009 as it not only decimated the BJP-Shiv Sena combine in the Lok Sabha elections, but also won a third term in the state with its ally Nationalist Congress Party.


In between the two elections, the state had to brace up for drought conditions, a cyclonic attack and the dreaded swine flu, whose first fatality in the country was reported from Pune.


The State Police continued to reel under brutal attacks of the Naxalites this year also. As many as 38 policemen were killed in three major attacks, all in the insurgency-affected Gadchiroli district. Sixteen policemen were killed in an attack in Tawitola area of the district on May 21 while as many as 17 policemen lost their lives in another Naxal strike at Laheri village of the district on October 8. The third naxal attack was witnessed near Markegaon village in Korchi tehsil of the district on February 2, in which 15 policemen died.


Politically, the grandstand entry of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in the Assembly and parliamentary elections upset the applecart of the BJP-SS combine, which was yearning to regain power after two terms in the opposition. The hiatus will be extended for five more years and this is likely to see a change in the political equations in the state. The twin successes saw chief Minister Ashok Chavan gaining the confidence of the high command which reinstalled him to head the new government. Mr R R Patil of the NCP who reluctantly quit as home minister after the 26/11 terror attack, however, got back the portfolio in the new dispensation.


NCP, a party having most of its base in Western Maharashtra, somehow managed to maintain its stronghold despite heavy losses. In the Lok Sabha elections, the party got only 8 seats and in the assembly elections 62. Veteran politician Sharad Pawar, a prime ministerial aspirant once, played his cards effectively to ensure that he not only retained the Agriculture portfolio at the Centre, but also saw his party retain key portfolios in the Ashok Chavan-led government in the State, despite NCP seeing an erosion in its base. A section of the Congress including senior leaders like former Chief Minister and Union Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, had been vociferous that the party go it alone in the State Assembly elections, but the party high command was wise enough to ensure that the alliance continued for a third time and reaped rich dividends.


The Raj Thackeray-led MNS proved that it was not a mere shouting brigade for the Marathi manoos cause as it made inroads into the BJP-Shiv Sena vote bank in the Lok Sabha elections, especially in urban areas, predominantly Mumbai and further consolidated in the assembly elections. The party won 13 seats as against none in the Lok Sabha elections. At the same time, street fighting tactics entered the Assembly when MNS MLAs roughed up Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi for taking Assembly membership oath in Hindi instead of Marathi. This was the first incident of its kind in the history of the state legislative Assembly when an MLA was beaten on the first day of the first session of the new assembly.


This election also saw the Shiv Sena's strength reduced to 44, the lowest in last 20 years, raising questions about the ability of Shiv Sena executive chief Uddhav Thackeray to lead the party. This also led to Sena supremo Bal Thackeray accusing the Marathi Manoos of back-stabbing the Sena which created a huge controversy. Mr Thackeray himself has now taken charge of the party to ensure that lost pride is restored.









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