MAHARASHTRA POLLS: BJP RETAINS RPI(A) EYEING DALIT VOTE SPLIT

As the two main political alliances forming the broad spectrum of the state politics in Maharashtra got over, with NCP quitting the senior partner Congress and BJP walking out of the Combine with Shiv Sena, the rush was to forge new alliances, to retain smaller allies, to find new allies.

Congress immediately announced Samajwadi Party coming on board with it, but a day later we came to know it was a premature announcement.

The BJP-Shiv Sena split saw increased bonhomie between Raj Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray but there is no definitive word on the political rivals from the Thackeray family coming together.

BJP retained three of the four smaller parties of the Mahayuti, the grand alliance that contested the Lok Sabha elections, Raju Shetti’s Swabhimani Paksh, Mahadev Jankar’s Rashtriya Samaj Party and Vinayak Mete’s Shiv Sangram. These small parties carry significant electoral weight in different regional pockets of Maharashtra.

But the RPI(A)’s stand was not clear. Both, Shiv Sena and BJP, were trying to woo Ramdas Athavale given the significant chunk of Dalit votes in the state.

Dalits are around 12% of the population of the state and have been a traditional vote bank of Congress-NCP.

An alliance with RPI(A), a previous Congress-NCP ally, fragmented the Dalit votes in Western Maharashtra, Marathwada and Mumbai, regions where Dalits are a major electoral force.

The Dalit vote fragmentation led the BJP-Shiv Sena Combine win many seats that it had lost in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

And so there was a rush to win over RPI(A) and the BJP finally won it.

True, there are other Dalit political outfits in Maharashtra including three other factions of Dr. BR Ambedkar’s RPI (led by Dr. Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar), but RPI(A) is the largest one of this divided mess.

And it will certainly help the BJP in diverting more votes away from Congress and NCP, given the fact that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) got 4% of the Dalit votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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