The fate of various senior leaders and their political outfits – including the MNS – depend on the outcome of the Lok Sabha results. Post May 16, the political and power equations will change in the state.
These include National Congress Party (NCP) Union industries minister Praful Patel (57), Public Works Department (PWD) minister Chhagan Bhujbal (66), water resources minister Sunil Tatkare (45) and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde (64), who are facing the toughest political battle of their lives.
Due to multi-corners fights, caste equations and anti-incumbency factors, no one is completely certain about who may emerge victorious. "It is a sort of make or break opportunity for these leaders. To counter anti-incumbency, the NCP pitted its senior leaders and ministers. The results will indicate whether they succeed by fielding the senior leaders or are swept away by the Modi wave," said a political observer.
Praful Patel is pitted against the BJP nominee Nana Patole in Gondia-Bhandra constituency. As per the report, Patole had given a tough time to Patel. If Patel loses, then there will halt in graph of his political career. There have been rumours that Patel may join the BJP government if it comes to power at the Centre.
In Nasik, PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal is pitted against Shiv Sena candidate Hemand Godse and Pradeep Patil of the MNS. If Bhujbal wins, he will become a prominent face of the NCP in parliament. Should he lose, it will be difficult for the NCP to reinstate him.
Similarly, Sunil Tatkare from the Raigad constituency was locked in a tough battle with five-time MP Anant Gite of the Shiv Sena, former police officer Sanjay Apranti of AAP and Peasants and Workers Party's Ramesh Kadam – an ex-NCP MLA.
On the other hand, BJP's Gopinath Munde was not facing anti-incumbency, though caste factors played a major role. Munde, a Vanjari by caste, is pitted against NCP's Maratha minister Suresh Das. Previously, minorities used to be in Munde's favour, however, owing to the Modi wave this time around, the Muslim minority groups have apparently voted against Munde. If he tests the defeat, then he will be liability for his party and his future will be quite dim.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik, said, "Let the result come out, then we will react. It will be premature to talk about the victory and defeat of the senior leaders as well. You can right off them by one loss. NCP is not a party that will run away from defeat. We will accept whatever the verdict is."
As per opinion polls, the BJP-Sena will get between 30-35 Lok Sabha seats out of a total of 48 seats. Should this happen, it will be a bigger jolt for the Congress-NCP. The MNS' voting share will also decimate further against the previous Lok Sabha polls. The Sena-BJP will get a boost, ahead of the state legislative assembly elections. MNS will not be a major factor in assembly polls, which are scheduled in October this year.