While acknowledging that the political arithmetic went wrong leading to poor score of the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday exuded confidence that a course correction and reworked strategy would help them sweep the Assembly polls in Maharashtra.

Fadnavis was addressing a meeting of BJP MLAs and office-bearers at Vasant Smruti Bhawan in Dadar in Mumbai.
“Despite winning just nine seats, BJP has taken a decisive lead in 71 Assembly constituencies dotted across the state. Another six seats belong to our associate which makes our total tally 76 seats. Along with our alliance partners Shiv Sena led by CM Eknath Shinde and NCP led by Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, the win in a total of 17 Lok Sabha seats translates into 130 Assembly seats. Which means Mahayuti is ahead in 130 out of total 288 seats in Assembly,” he said.

“A little effort to enhance our poll percentage by 3.5 will help us sweep the Assembly polls,” he said. “If each of our three constituents add-up 1.5 to 2 per cent, we will be comfortably above our opponents. Even if we look at BJP’s vote share, it has dropped by just 1.5 in 2024 compared to 2019 polls,” he said.

Fadnavis, who had offered to resign, held a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on Thursday and Friday. He has been advised against rushing resignation. Fadnavis said, “My resignation was not out of disappointment. I wanted to devote full time for the party. I am not somebody who runs away from responsibilities or challenges. I am a fighter. Moreover, let us not forget we draw inspiration from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who valiantly fought the mighty Mughal army despite being surrounded from all sides.”

According to Fadnavis, “Along with retaining the Mahayuti’s vote share of 43.6 per cent, we just need 3.5 per cent more to defeat the rival Maha Vikas Aghadi.”

Festive offer

“While we focused on fighting just three parties-Congress, NCP (SP) and Shiv Sena (UBT) in the Lok Sabha polls, there was a fourth party aggressively in the field whose plank was reservation. Unfortunately, we overlooked this player or fell short in effectively countering it through planned strategy,” he said.

Fadnavis was referring to the reservation plank that was raised by activist Manoj Jarange-Patil, complete with poll rallies and the Constitution threat issue that saw dalits/tribals consolidate fearing they would lose Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes reservation.

While MVA polled 43.9 pc votes, Mahayuti won 43.6 pc votes. The gap was a mere 0.3 pc. Yet, the difference in seats was huge with MVA bagging 30 and Mahayuti 17.

Analyzing the vote share and seats won and lost, Fadnavis said, “The consolidation of Muslims and dalits played a crucial factor in determining the electoral outcome in favor of MVA. At least in eleven seats certain community (read Muslims) was a factor that led to BJP’s loss with a narrow margin, less than three percent.”

Exhorting the BJP cadre to get back to work immediately for Assembly polls, Fadnavis warned the Mahayuti constituents against engaging in blame game for debacle in the polls.

“I have spoken with CM Eknath Shinde and DyCM Ajit Pawar. I believe we will have to work together,” he said. “At this point, it is pointless to hold each other responsible for Lok Sabha performance. Although there was some lack of coordination at grassroots among us, we have also helped each other in winning the seats. Therefore, Mahayuti has to put up a united front in Assembly polls,” he added.

Fadnavis said, “The anti-Constitution narrative worked in one election. Such false agenda will not work again. Secondly, Maratha reservation was given both the times during the BJP-led coalition (2018 and 2024). To the contrary, those (Congress/NCP-SP) who were against Maratha reservation since 1980 till date have elicited the support from pro-Maratha quota followers. They succeeded in misleading the people. But how long will such lies last,” he asked.

“The propaganda against relocation of industries and projects from Maharashtra was another plank which opponents encashed. But the setback to industries was during MVA government led by CM Uddhav Thackeray. During our government, Maharashtra achieved leadership position. Maharashtra’s investment is highest in the country. The neighboring states Gujarat, Karnataka and Delhi are way below,” he added.