Mumbai: Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis hails from Vidarbha, which is among the two most backward regions of Maharashtra where farmers’ suicides have been consistently high. There has been a consistent demand for separate statehood for Vidarbha, mainly from the BJP, in view of lack of development here.
Interestingly, political parties have largely desisted from talking about farmer suicides and developmental issues during their campaigns this time around. In the last elections, the BJP had clinched a spectacular victory by bagging 44 of the 62 seats. Meanwhile, the Congress managed to win only 10 seats. This time, however, the odds seem to be against the BJP.
There is an open rebellion on at least 10 seats in the region as discontent seems to be simmering over the sitting MLAs’ poor performance. In addition to this, the BJP has had to share seats with the Sena, thereby upsetting the local BJP leaders. According to reports, since the Sena has been given only 12 seats in Vidarbha, rebel Sena candidates are likely to hinder the BJP’s path to success.
To add to this, there is fear among the predominant Kunbi community that the Maratha reservation may eat into their OBC quota. While the BJP has been trying to alleviate these fears, Congress has been bringing it up time and again in their campaigns.
This time, the Congress hopes to perform well in Vidarbha as it is counting on the Dalit, Muslim and Adivasi vote banks. These are called the “ek gattha votes” or stock votes. The entire community decides and votes for a particular party or candidate. Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), in that sense, is a direct threat to Congress. However, as past trends indicate, Muslim votes usually do not get transferred to VBA. And since Ambedkar is not contesting with AIMIM this time, the Muslim vote might go to the Congress.