Exit polls predicting a sweep for the Shiv Sena-BJP-led five-party 'Mahayuti' (grand alliance) comes as a shot in the arm of the rainbow coalition before the state assembly elections due later this year.
Both the Shiv Sena and the BJP, which have tasted power just once in the state from 1995 to 1999, are hoping that a Lok Sabha victory on the popularity of BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi coupled with an anti-incumbency wave will help them make a clean breast in the assembly polls. These are the fist polls to take place after the death of Bal Thackeray in 2012 and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is facing a tough task in countering claims by MNS chief Raj Thackeray for the same political space.
"We were anyways expecting between 35 and 40 seats. It is just that the opinion polls have confirmed it. This is the result of the Modi wave and we are happy about it," said Vinod Tawde, BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the state legislative council.
Shiv Sena leader and MLC Anil Parab said exit polls results revealed that the BJP-led NDA was heading for a clear majority.
"The polls revealed that the Congress threw down its weapons before the actual battle. The exit polls have exposed this," said Parab, adding that the exit polls results, which showed the saffron alliance getting around 30-32 seats, were in conformity with their own calculations. He claimed that the NCP, led by union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, stood to get the worst beating at the hustings.
The BJP fought 24 seats and the Sena 20, leaving four seats for allies like the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (Baramati), RPI-Athavale (Satara) and farmer leader Raju Shetti's Swambhimaani Paksha (Madha and Hatkangale).
Senior BJP leader Atul Bhatkhlakar said: "There are different opinion polls, but by and large they show that the NDA is gaining majority. In Maharashtra too, the opinion polls show our BJP-Sena-led alliance to get between 27 and 33 seats. We are confident of gaining more than 30 seats and the single most important factor responsible for this will be Modi. Besides, in Maharashtra, we have been able to take advantage of the Modi wave and stitch up an alliance with different parties like RPI, Swabhimaani Shetkari Sanghatana and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha."