Why BJP bagging Palghar by-poll seat is a personal victory for Devendra Fadnavis

Kamlesh Sutar
Kamlesh SutarMay 31, 2018 | 17:10

Why BJP bagging Palghar by-poll seat is a personal victory for Devendra Fadnavis

BJP's Rajendra Gavit has won the Palaghar Lok Sabha by-poll, but it's Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis who is the real winner here. 

Even though Gavit defeated Shiv Sena’s Shriniwas Wanga by 29,572 votes, the situation in the run-up to the battle looked quite different with the Sena hogging all the limelight during the campaign. The BJP was unable to grab enough attention. While the Sena had an impressive line-up of candidates, BJPs propaganda machinery failed to make any impact. So much so that even Yogi Adityanath's rally went unnoticed. So did star campaigner Smriti Irani's visit.


Winner takes it all

More than a Gavit versus Wanga, or a BJP versus Shiv Sena, this fight was between Devendra Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray. Earlier this year, the Sena, in its national executive meeting, had announced that it would not enter into any alliance with the BJP for the 2019 elections. And Palghar by-election gave the Sena an opportunity to test its mettle as a precursor to the 2019 battle.

Taking the attack to a different level altogether in the run-up to May 28, the Shiv Sena chief released an audio clip purportedly of chief minister Fadnavis asking BJP workers to use all possible means (read by hook or by crook) to win the by-election. 

The CM, as expected by the Sena, was caught unawares and put on the back foot, especially given his "spotless" image. The BJP's campaign machinery, meanwhile, failed miserably to manage the crisis.  While party leaders who now claim to be the architects of the Palghar victory failed to give a befitting reply, it was Fadnavis who was left to fend for himself. Taking things in his own hands, Fadnavis turned the tables on the Shiv Sena. Leading the attack from the front, he pounced on Thackeray for the party's double standards.


There were also rumours that it was Fadnavis who made the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) jump into the fray, making it a triangular contest ultimately resulting in the division of anti-BJP votes. (The combined vote share of Sena and BVA is far more than that of the BJP's.) It is also interesting to note that that the little-known BVA, with three MLAs, is an ally of the BJP in the legislative Assembly.

At a time when most Opposition parties are uniting against the BJP, the Palghar victory has once again underlined the coming of age of Fadnavis as an election winner.

Even though the BJP lost the crucial Lok Sabha seats of Kairana in Uttar Pradesh and Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra (there were four Lok Sabha seats – Kairana, Palghar, Bhandara-Gondiya and Nagaland — up for grabs), Palghar has proved to be the party's saving grace.

But amid all this, it is Fadnavis who has emerged as the biggest winner.

Last updated: June 01, 2018 | 17:17
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