Western Maharashtra is known to be the bastion of the Nationalist Congress Party and home to powerful sugar barons. But the big shock this election was the saffron surge in the sugar belt.
Shirur, near Pune, signals the changing times in Sharad Pawar's stronghold. The Shiv Sena-BJP combine won four seats in western Maharashtra -- their highest tally ever, while the NCP has been humbled even though NCP ministers camped here throughout the election season. Sharad Pawar himself addressed 16 rallies here while Ajit Pawar held over 40 rallies.
Long, long ago some angry people of Orissa had attacked Indira Gandhi at an election rally forcing her to move around with a bandaged nose.
Even in its worse ever performance in 2000 Congress managed 30-35 per cent votes share. In this election it was virtually flattened by, just got 27 seats in the House of 147, 11 seats and nearly 6 per cent down from its 2004 elections tally. In the Lok Sabha polls though it increased its tally of seats from two in the two previous polls, it registered a sharp drop of 7.68 per cent in its vote-share. This was not all. The party was badly mauled into its traditional stronghold of Tribal-dominated Southern region while it could not open its account in as many as nine of the state's 30 districts. I guess this is one harsh result which Rahul Bhakts is working overtime to sweep under the carpet.
While the Congress celebrates its victory in the Lok Sabha elections and cries itself hoarse about its secular credentials, in the Muslim-dominated city of Malegaon — part of Dhule Lok Sabha constituency, formerly a Congress bastion — it’s the BJP that has emerged the winner