Sharad Pawar's "We Thank PM Modi" At Press Meet With Allies Is A Swipe

In the 2024 election the Maha Vikas Aghadi - expected to lose a tight race for Maharashtra's 48 Lok Sabha seats - surprised many with a thumping win.

MVA leaders Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar, and Prithivraj Chavan (File).


NCP founder Sharad Pawar has "thanked" Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Maharashtra's opposition alliance, the Maha Vikas Aghadi - consisting of his party, ex-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena faction, and the Congress - won 30 of the state's 48 Lok Sabha seats in this election.

Mr Pawar - who lost the NCP symbol and name to the group led by nephew Ajit Pawar, the Deputy Chief Minister after allying with the BJP and the Sena breakaways, led by eventual the Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde - said, "We thank PM Narendra Modi for making the political atmosphere conducive for the MVA."

The jibe comes amid inquests, public and private, into the BJP's dismal showing in Maharashtra, in which it won 23 seats in 2019 and only nine this time. In fact, data suggests Mr Modi and BJP did not win 15 of 18 seats in which it campaigned widely. The three were Mumbai North and North West, and Satara.

The rest, including Beed, Latur, Nashik, Mumbai North East, and Pune, went to the MVA parties, with Mr Pawar's NCP finishing with eight seats while Ajit Pawar's NCP managed just one.

Thackeray, Pawar On Buzz Over MP Switches

Meanwhile, Mr Thackeray - buoyed by a strong election, in which his Sena faction won nine seats and the breakaway group seven - seemed to shut the door to those looking to return after jumping ship, He said those who stayed loyal after the split in 2022 will stay, amid rumours at least two MPs are ready to move.

READ | 2 Team Uddhav MPs Are In Touch With Eknath Shinde: Shiv Sena Leader

"All those who supported me will stay. We will move forward with all those people who stayed and struggled with us..." he said, but then said, "If some people want to join us, we will see..."

He also rubbished talk about a reverse switch - that  he could merge his Sena group with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's 'original' and return to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

READ | On Rumours Of Going Back To NDA, Team Uddhav Says...

The latter set of events would improve the BJP's position, after it won only 240 seats on its own, 32 short of majority. Even with NDA partners, specifically the JDU and TDP, the BJP is only 21 over the majority mark of 272. For the INDIA bloc, picking up a handful of Shinde Sena MPs won't allow them to challenge the BJP, but it would put Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party under stress.

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Mr Thackeray also took a jibe at the BJP over the Ram Temple in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya, which the latter thought would win it a majority, if not all, of the state's 80 seats and drive it to its '400 paar' target.

"After the election, Ram has become BJP-free," he said.

"Thank You, Maharashtra": Maha Vikas Aghadi

Mr Thackeray, Mr Pawar, and the Congress' Prithivraj Chavan were addressing a presser to thank voters for the poll results. "This press conference is to express gratitude to the people of Maharashtra. The people voted for the MVA and rejected attempts of religious polarisation," Mr Chavan said. 

"Recently, a meeting of the three parties was held to prepare for the Assembly election. The way we fought the Lok Sabha election, we will fight the Vidhan Sabha poll," he continued, "Our victory will be certain and there will be a change of power in the state."

Mr Thackeray, meanwhile, underlined the fact the government is no longer run solely by the BJP - which had brute majorities in 2014 and 2019 - but is a coalition. "It was 'Modi government' but now it is 'NDA government'. How long will it last?"

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He also said the Lok Sabha result in the state had exposed the "myth" of the BJP's electoral invincibility. "There was an atmosphere in the whole country... everyone thought no one could fight against the BJP. But people of Maharashtra showed this is hollow," he said.

He also hailed the opposition's strong showing despite an "economically uneven" battle. "It was a fight to save the Constitution and to save democracy," the ex-Chief Minister said, "The fight has just begun..."

In the 2024 election the MVA - expected to lose a tight race for Maharashtra's 48 Lok Sabha seats, the most of any state after Uttar Pradesh's 80 - surprised many with a thumping win. 

Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar's parties won 17 seats between themselves. The Congress secured 13, after winning only two in the 2014 election and just one in 2019. By contrast the BJP, which won 23 last time, got nine, and its Sena and NCP allies got eight.

The BJP's setback, coupled with losses in Uttar Pradesh and Bengal, meant the party fell well short of its ambitious target of 370. The BJP got only 240 - 32 below the majority mark - and needed Nitish Kumar's JDU and Chandrababu Naidu's TDP to form the union government.

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