By Dr. Gyan Pathak
Sweep of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in the elections held for Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) across Maharashtra, which is also considered as mini-general election, signals its return to power in the state which is going to be held in 2024, just a few months after the Lok Sabha Elections. With high morale, it’s also advantage MVA over the ruling BJP-Shinde alliance in the state that sends 48 seats in the Lok Sabha.
There are 306 APMCs in Maharashtra out of which elections were held on 235seats in two phases last week while on 18 elections were declared unopposed. Election results are already out for election of 147 APMCs in first phase held on April 26and awaited for another 88 in the second phase held on April 30.
Though the APMC elections are not fought on party symbols, several political parties support some or the other panel, and thus the wins and the losses of panels reflect the rise or fall of the political clouts of the parties in the rural Maharashtra. When seen in this backdrop, MVA is seen to have swept the first phase winning 89 while the ruling BJP-Shinde alliance could win only 48. BJP by winning 40 APMCs emerged as the single largest winner followed by NCP with 38, Congress with 32, Uddhav Thackeray group 11, and Shinde group 8. Independents and others won 18 APMCs.
The importance of the AMPCs elections in Maharashtra lies in the fact that these elections reveal the mood of the farmers and the rural populace of the state. The 253 APMCs, that went to polls, have direct impact on about 174 out of total 288 seats in the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha. To form a government any individual political party or alliance need 145 seats only. These 253 APMCs influence the result of 29 Lok Sabha seats out of 48 from the state.
The result of the APMCs election so far reflect that the ruling BJP-Shinde alliance in heading for troubled days ahead. Even before the election results, we have heard discords between the BJP and Shinde group, while Ajit Pawar of NCP claiming that the situation is ripe for his group to form government in the state in near future. It also signalled a possibility of BJP throwing Shinde group out of the ruling combine whenever it finds another suitable political partner.
The characteristic feature of the APMC election result is that BJP supported panels have lost many seats signifying that farmers are angry with the BJP’s policies in respect of the farm sector. A number of panels supported by Shinde group have also lost the APMCs and hence BJP will have to rethink about its present strategy in which Shinde does not seem to be profitable. BJP would like to shed its political burden weighing on the NDA in Maharashtra before the Lok Sabha election. It serves a warning to the ruling combine in the state that they must mend their ways towards the farmers, or else they prepare themselves for the consequences.
Performance of Eknath Shinde group was very bad. They won only 8 APMCs. Political analysts are of the opinion that such a poor performance is the chief reason that spoiled the seat share of the ruling alliance. Though BJP emerged as the largest winner, its dream of spectacular performance has shattered.
Another characteristic of the election result is that the panels supported by the factions of other political parties who favour alliance with BJP also lost, which indicates that any political group supporting BJP would not be tolerated by the farmers. It would serve as brake on the movement of the factions, particularly in the NCP, who are in favour of alliance with BJP rather than their present alliance with Congress or Uddhav Thackeray group. It is a warning for those who are trying to split MVA in favour of the ruling alliance, on the one hand, and a signal to the MVA that they would stand benefited if they stand united against the ruling BJP-Shinde alliance.
It is precisely due to this reason the Maharashtra NCP president Jayant Patil has said that APMC results are an indication that BJP-Shinde alliance will lose the assembly election due next year. “I am sure that their dream will be shattered. The next Chief Minister will be from the NCP,” he said. However, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule said, “We are going to win 2024. They should prepare for 2029.”
Nevertheless, the result announced shows that MVA is far ahead by winning 89 APMCs than the BJP-Shinde alliance that could win only 48 APMCs. The difference is too wide to be bridged in near future. Performance of the Uddhav Thackeray group was better with 11 wins than the Shinde group’s 8.
Within MVA, NCP performed their best. Despite infighting, they emerged second largest winner in the APMCs election by winning 38 of them. They lost because of infighting, but the result will unite them again since farmers are not in a mood to tolerate anyone who would support BJP at the cost of MVA. Congress has also performed well by winning 32 seats indicating that they not only retain their strongholds, but also gaining the more support from farmers and rural populace.
The APMCs elections also show that BJP has not succeeded in penetrating into the support base of the NCP and the Congress, but are losing their own support base. Results brings setbacks to the BJP’s plan to enhance their political performance in the stated during 2024 elections, but the party now feels that the experiment of making Shinde the Chief Minister of the state is not working in their favour. (IPA Service)