The Bharatiya Janata Party’s decline from 23 seats to nine within a span of five years between 2019 and 2014 in Parliament polls is among the worst political strike rates.

Although its vote share at 26.17 per cent is just marginally low compared to 27.8 per cent in 2019, the state BJP’s loss of fourteen seats is a big loss, especially at a time when it has government both at the Center and state.

The party’s statistics in the last 35 years from 1989 to 2024 shows that BJP’s lowest score of five parliament seats (20.2 per cent) happened in 1991. Its second lowest score of achieving nine seats took place in the 2004 and 2009 polls.

The BJP achieved its highest score of 23 seats twice, in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Both these elections, which were driven by the Modi wave, saw the state BJP polling a vote share of 27.6 percent and 27.8 percent respectively.

State BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule said, β€œThe 2024 poll results came as a shock to us. We were definitely hoping BJP would not only retain its last tally but improve beyond 23 seats out of 28 contested.”

Festive offer

From the erstwhile Jana Sangh to BJP, the right wing’s evolution was slow and steady in Maharashtra, which has always been a progressive state dominated by the Congress between 1960 to the 1990s. The BJP was formed on April 6, 1980. To counter the Congress’s politics which was then dominated by the ruling Maratha class, state leaders adopted a strategy to focus on OBCs.

The then BJP political ideologue Vasant Bhagwat came up with the concept of MADHAV formula through the social engineering of Malis, Dhangars and Vanjaris – three dominant OBC communities in Maharashtra. The strategy gave BJP a strong foothold in the state and also emerged as an alternative to Congress’s Maratha dominant politics.

In the mid-1980s, the BJP entered into an alliance for parliament and assembly polls with a like-minded and then regional party that was more established and powerful β€” undivided Shiv Sena. The saffron alliance continued for three decades till Uddhav Thackeray parted ways to join Congress-NCP post the assembly polls in 2019.

From five seats in 1991 to 18 seats in 1996, the BJP took its first quantum leap in Maharashtra. It gained 13 seats with its vote share marginally increasing from 20.2 percent to 21.8 percent.

Apart from setting this social engineering process in motion in the 1980s to shift to Hindutva after the Babri demolition and Ram temple movement in the 1990s, BJP consolidated itself as the main opposition party to Congress in the state.

In 1995, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance for the first time beat Congress to form the coalition government in the state. The then Shiv Sena supremo handpicked senior party leader Manohar Joshi as the first CM of the saffron government. The BJP’s Gopinath Munde became the Deputy CM. The state government lasted till 1999. In the 1999 Lok Sabha polls, NDA was voted to power at the Center with prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In the state, Shiv Sena and BJP lost power. The newly formed NCP led by Sharad Pawar joined hands with Congress to form the state government with late Vilasrao Deshmukh as the CM. The Congress-NCP government continued in power till 2009.

As PM Modi took the reins at the Center after the 2014 polls, the assembly elections held six months later under the then state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis saw the BJP bagging 122 out of 288 seats. It was the highest ever score in the history of the BJP in Maharashtra, paving the way for BJP’s first CM, Devendra Fadnavis. The government completed its full five-year tenure. But failed to retain power in 2019 despite the BJP getting 105 seats out of 288. It was then relegated to opposition.

The split in the Shiv Sena, which saw Eknath Shinde revolt, culminated into the formation of the BJP-Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) government in June 2022. Shinde was awarded the coveted post of CM and Fadnavis was relegated to the post of Deputy CM. .

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