It was a 'double triumph' for Congress in Maharashtra in 2009
as it not only decimated the BJP-Shiv Sena combine in the Lok Sabha
elections, but also won a third term in the state with its ally
Nationalist Congress Party.
In between the two elections, the
state had to brace up for drought conditions, a cyclonic attack and
the dreaded swine flu, whose first fatality in the country was
reported from Pune.
The State Police continued to reel
under brutal attacks of the Naxalites this year also. As many as 38
policemen were killed in three major attacks, all in the
insurgency-affected Gadchiroli district. Sixteen policemen were
killed in an attack in Tawitola area of the district on May 21 while
as many as 17 policemen lost their lives in another Naxal strike at
Laheri village of the district on October 8. The third naxal attack
was witnessed near Markegaon village in Korchi tehsil of the
district on February 2, in which 15 policemen died.
Politically, the grandstand entry of
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in the Assembly and parliamentary
elections upset the applecart of the BJP-SS combine, which was
yearning to regain power after two terms in the opposition. The
hiatus will be extended for five more years and this is likely to
see a change in the political equations in the state. The twin
successes saw chief Minister Ashok Chavan gaining the confidence of
the high command which reinstalled him to head the new government.
Mr R R Patil of the NCP who reluctantly quit as
minister after the 26/11 terror attack, however, got back the
portfolio in the new dispensation.
NCP, a party having most of its base
in Western Maharashtra, somehow managed to maintain its stronghold
despite heavy losses. In the Lok Sabha elections, the party got only
8 seats and in the assembly elections 62. Veteran politician Sharad
Pawar, a prime ministerial aspirant once, played his cards
effectively to ensure that he not only retained the Agriculture
portfolio at the Centre, but also saw his party retain key
portfolios in the Ashok Chavan-led government in the State, despite
NCP seeing an erosion in its base. A section of the Congress
including senior leaders like former Chief Minister and Union Heavy
Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, had been vociferous that the
party go it alone in the State Assembly elections, but the party
high command was wise enough to ensure that the alliance continued
for a third time and reaped rich dividends.
The Raj Thackeray-led MNS proved that
it was not a mere shouting brigade for the Marathi manoos cause as
it made inroads into the BJP-Shiv Sena vote
in the Lok Sabha elections, especially in urban areas, predominantly
Mumbai and further consolidated in the assembly elections.
The party won 13 seats as against none in the Lok Sabha elections.
At the same time, street fighting tactics entered the Assembly when
MNS MLAs roughed up Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi for taking
Assembly membership oath in Hindi instead of Marathi. This was the
first incident of its kind in the history of the state legislative
Assembly when an MLA was beaten on the first day of the first
session of the new assembly.
This election also saw the Shiv Sena's
strength reduced to 44, the lowest in last 20 years, raising
questions about the ability of Shiv Sena executive chief Uddhav
Thackeray to lead the party. This also led to Sena supremo Bal
Thackeray accusing the Marathi Manoos of back-stabbing the Sena
which created a huge controversy. Mr Thackeray himself has now taken
charge of the party to ensure that lost pride is restored.