3 issues that will determine how Maharashtra votes today

Mumbai: Polling officials checking the Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs) and other necessary inputs required for the Maharashtra Assembly Election at a distributions centre in Mumbai on Oct 20, 2019. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) There are three issues, which will determine which way the electorate will vote in the ongoing Maharashtra Assembly elections.

1. Article 370: Like in Haryana, the BJP has turned the Maharashtra Assembly election into a referendum on its national security agenda with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leader Amit Shah in rally after rally reminding people of Article 370, that accorded a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and how the BJP government at the Centre abrogated it.

At one rally, Modi lamented how even Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar toed the Congress line on the issue. While addressing a rally in Chandrapur, Shah dared, “I am throwing a direct challenge to Rahul Gandhi and Sharad Pawar to restore Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir after coming to power.” The response of those attending the rallies made Pawar do a rethink on his strategy and the 79-year-old leader was forced to say that there is no need to talk about bringing back Article 370.

2. Agrarian Crisis: Despite all efforts by the BJP, the agrarian crisis continues to remain in the spotlight in Maharashtra. Information received under a recent RTI query shows that while 12,021 farmers committed suicide in the state between 2015 and 2018, an astounding 396 farmers killed themselves this year between January and February alone. Amravati, Aurangabad, Nashik, Nagpur and Pune — remain the hotbed of farmer suicides, a direct result of the agrarian crisis that the state is in the grip of, with Amravati recording 144 suicides so far. Reason why the issue doesn’t cease to be an electoral issue in these 5 places, even though the Congress failed to rake it up successfully.

3. Unemployment: This will certainly be a determining factor for many as they go out to vote with the economic slowdown resulting in overwhelming job loss in the country. Unemployment has been a silent but raging electoral issue in Maharashtra Assembly elections, but unlike Haryana, where it was only talked about in terms of Maruti’s performance at its Manesar plant.

Though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) election manifesto promises to provide 5 crore jobs over the next five years, the ground reality is not as rosy. Maharashtra’s unemployment rate rose around 1.7 percentage points over the last 12 months, according to data compiled by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

The state has registered a revenue deficit in four out of the five years during FY15-19, except for 2018. Many medium to small scale businesses in Mumbai have shut down, as a result of demonetisation and introduction of the GST. And yet, the main opposition Congress miserably failed to voice the issue as aggressively as one would expect.

While pre-poll surveys point towards a smooth return for Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra, the last two issues have the BJP’s state leadership concerned.

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