Maha verdict: Big 4 in wait-and-watch mode

All four main political parties in the state were in wait-and-watch mode a day before the counting of votes for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on Thursday. While the saffron parties have been elated as Sunday’s exit polls predicted big gains for the NDA, Congress-NCP leaders seemed anxious and wary about the outcome.

This wariness has translated to additional vigilance and monitoring of the electoral process with both Congress-NCP workers guarding strongrooms in 24X7 shifts in the state over the past couple of days.

All parties have appointed agents and observers to monitor the entire counting process. “We are trying our best to secure strongrooms. The way everything is being managed, we doubt that EVMs can also be manipulated. Considering this, we have deployed four people at each strongroom, who are manning them in shifts. We have also written to the election commission to install jammers so that there is no possibility of remotely hacking EVMs. However, the commission is yet to react on our demand,” said state Congress president Ashok Chavan.

The party swung into action to give each Lok Sabha candidate responsibility to guard strongrooms, after party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi asked workers to be vigilant.

A senior NCP leader also admitted that for the first time, party cadre had been positioned to guard strongrooms 24X7. Unlike the Opposition, ruling parties are following the regular process of appointing polling agents at counting centres. “We have appointed agents at counting centres for monitoring the counting process like we have been doing for years. We don’t see any reason to take additional efforts as we trust the election commission,’’ said BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye.

Opposition leaders have also contested the exit polls prediction. They have estimated a tally in the range of 20-24, a half of the total of 48 seats. Majority of the exit polls have predicted that the Opposition will win in the range of 8-14 seats.

“We expect 20 to 22 seats for Congress, NCP and other alliance partners in the state. The assessment is done on the basis of the inputs we get from our workers and leaders from respective constituencies in the state,’’ said state Congress chief Ashok Chavan.

The NCP has estimated that it will win up to 12 seats on its own. If this is proven true, it would be NCP’s best tally since its inception in 1999.

“NCP is expecting to win around 12 seats in Maharashtra, while as an alliance we are looking to conquer 22 to 24 constituencies,” said Jayant Patil, state NCP president.

The saffron allies have upped their expectations and tallies to be more than those estimated by the exit polls. BJP state president Raosaheb Danve said the NDA would do a repeat of the 2014 polls and win 42-45 out of the 48 seats. Unofficial estimates by the BJP state unit, a senior leader confirmed are a tad more modest at around 36 seats.

“As of now, we are confident of 36 seats, but the tally could be more as we estimate tough battles in seven seats. We could win some of those or all of those seats as well,’’ said a senior party functionary.

The Shiv Sena is also hopeful of upping its tally from 18 seats in 2014 to around 20 seats this year. While Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray refused to spell out numbers he said that the party would win more seats than shown in exit polls. “Our expectation from the results has been spelt out by Uddhav ji. We will increase our tally; it will be over 20 seats,” said Anil Desai, party secretary and Rajya Sabha MP.

First Published:
May 23, 2019 01:57 IST

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