Domino Effect: How Congress Drubbing Puts Thackeray, Pawar and Pawar on a Sticky Wicket – News18

The poor showing by the Congress also adds to the pressure on Uddhav Thackeray to keep his flock together and stop disillusioned leaders from joining Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. (PTI/File)

The election loss in Madhya Pradesh and boot from power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have knocked the Congress down several pegs not just in the INDIA alliance but in the Maha Vikas Aghadi. It also has consequences for its allies

The Congress had been riding high following its election win in Karnataka earlier this year, hoping to solidify its position in the anti-BJP INDIA bloc. But the election loss in Madhya Pradesh and boot from power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have knocked the party down several pegs not just in the INDIA alliance but in the Maha Vikas Aghadi.

Far from winning Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana as it had claimed, the grand old party has had to contend with just one win — in Telangana, that too with a slim majority, considerably eroding its bargaining power with MVA constituents Shiv Sena-UBT and NCP during seat-sharing talks for Lok Sabha elections and Maharashtra Assembly elections next year.

Sources told News18 that after Karnataka elections in May this year, the Congress was pushing for more seats in its kitty in Vidarbha and Marathwaga regions. But with the recent losses, Shiv Sena-UBT Uddhav Thackeray may dig in his heels and refuse to give in to the demand.

Adding insult to injury, there is speculation in the state’s political circles that some Congress leaders may jump ship to the BJP, effecting a split the kinds of which rocked the Shiv Sena and NCP recently and completely changed the state’s political landscape.

Few leaders are also said to be questioning the merits of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo yatra which some in the party had pegged as the key to winning all eventual elections. In 2022, during elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Council, the state’s Upper House, an incident of cross-voting within the Congress was reported but no action was taken by the party high command. Some of these leaders may now switch over to the BJP.

The poor showing by the Congress also adds to the pressure on Uddhav Thackeray to keep his flock together and stop disillusioned leaders from joining Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

These concerns hold truer for the NCP where some Sharad Pawar loyalists may rationalise that Ajit Pawar picked the winning side and leave to join the Maharashtra deputy chief minister in backing the Eknath Shinde-BJP government.

On the other hand, the BJP’s success in retaining Madhya Pradesh and wresting Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh from the Congress puts it in a dominant position during seat-sharing talks with Ajit Pawar and Eknath Shinde.

Ajit Pawar has already declared that come negotiation time, he will stake claim to the seats that are currently with Shiv Sena-UBT. He has a slimmer chance of success now as the BJP will want to keep the bulk share of seats for general elections.

Come 2024, Maharashtra politics will feel the domino effect of Congress’s drubbing.