Despite the exit polls predicting that the Opposition tally in Maharashtra could touch 18, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance won only five of the 48 Lok Sabha seats (till going to press).
The BJP, Shiv Sena and NCP clinched 23, 18 and four seats, respectively, the same figure as that of 2014. Even their vote share may remain nearly the same, with Shiv Sena going two notches up, while Congress losing a percentage point.
This result reinforces the authority of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis (48), who steered the campaign in the state, and avoided any loss of seats.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, too, retained his tally. However, the mandate also compels the saffron alliance to stay together, despite differences.
The biggest surprise is the defeat of Ashok Chavan, president of the Congress state unit. The Congress failed to capitalise the anti-incumbency factor in the state, and shed its vote share from 18.6 per cent to 16.2 per cent.
Another surprise, and a moment of lost prestige for Shiv Sena, is the defeat of Chandrakant Khaire, incumbent Shiv Sena MP from Marathwada’s administrative centre, Aurangabad. Imtiyaz Jaleel, a former journalist and a member on the state Assembly won by a paltry margin of 5,000 votes. He belongs to the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), led by Asaduddin Owaisi.
Nitin Gadkari won by 200,000 votes in Nagpur.
NCP lost two of its incumbent seats, Kolhapur and Madha, which Sharad Pawar represented during UPA years. It won two seats in Pune and Raigad districts, by slender margins. Television actor Amol Kolhe won with a margin of about 60,000 votes in Shirur. In Konkan, former state irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare defeated Union heavy industries minister Anant Geete from Raigad.