Mandir, Maratha quota to dominate Maharashtra 2024 LS + Assembly polls

Mumbai, Jan 28 (IANS): The ruling MahaYuti alliance of the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party-Nationalist Congress Party (AP) has dual reasons to cheer for and before the upcoming Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections this year in the state, plus the civic elections.

These are the recently consecrated imposing new Lord Ram Temple in Ayodhya, and the just-resolved Marathas quotas issue – the latter threatened to upset all political calculations if left hanging.

A senior Mumbai BJP leader said that “the mood among the people in urban centres like Mumbai is buoyant” after the inauguration of the Balakram Mandir on January 22.

“Mumbai has some chilling memories of the time when the illegal structure in Ayodhya was demolished on December 6, 1992, and its repercussions were felt here with the two-phased bloody riots of December 1992-January 1993,” said the party leader.

There was even a backlash in the form of the March 12, 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai – considered the worst-ever terror attack in the country which officially left 257 dead, much higher than the 166 deaths in the November. 26, 2008 terror strikes that shook the world.

As per tentative plans, the ruling allies would highlight the Lord Ram Temple as a major achievement of the saffron government in the state and the Centre, and the crowning glory of the 10-year rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said.

Whether this could lead to an alienation of some sections of the polity, the leader argued that it’s the culmination of the aspirations of the country’s majority population after five centuries with the support of the PM, “then why should anybody object”.

On the Marathas reservation issue, a Thane leader said that the politically dominant community has got something to rejoice over after waiting for over seven decades for their rightful share in government jobs and education, and this will have “a significant impact” on the elections, though there are several hurdles left to be cleared.

Aware that the SS-BJP-NCP(AP) are perched on a high ground ahead of the elections, the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies, Congress-Shiv Sena (UBT)-Nationalist Congress Party (SP) are seeking to draw attention to “the real issues of bread-and-butter” instead of emotional, sectarian or religious politics.

“The Lord Ram Mandir task is over, the PM should now talk of work”, was the blunt refrain of SS-UBT president and ex-chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.

He added that Lord Ram is not the private property of any leader or any party, but the BJP has even tried to hijack Lord Ram for political gains.

“Now the time has come to ‘free Lord Ram’ from the clutches of the BJP,” roared Thackeray in Nashik, on the occasion of Balasaheb Thackeray’s 98th birth anniversary on January 23.

Launching more barbs, Thackeray said the BJP keeps asking “what the Congress did in 75 years”, but now they have to reply “what has Modi done in 10 years”, and advised the PM not to just keep mouthing ‘Jai Shri Ram’ but also live up to Lord Ram’s ideals.

Congress state president Nana Patole has made it clear that the masses are concerned about inflation, unemployment, women and safety, the distress in the agriculture sector and other burning issues.

He said that the BJP has pushed these issues behind and tried to divert attention through the ‘mega event management show’ at the Lord Ram Temple inauguration or the publicity blitzkrieg for questionable achievements.

“The BJP will have to heed the real problems confronting the masses and not simply keep harping on religious, caste or emotional issues…The Opposition leaders are being hounded and their voice is being suppressed through the misuse of central probe agencies,” said Patole.

NCP (SP) working president Supriya Sule cited a report tabled in Parliament that mentioned how 95 percent of the ‘I.C.E.’ cases (IT-CBI-ED) are targeted against the Opposition parties in the country, and warned that the people will not forget these aspects while casting their vote.

As both sides attempt to create their own narratives before the elections, there are certain stark political realities that could also affect the public perception like the ongoing crises plaguing the national opposition’s I.N.D.I.A. bloc, with divisions in Punjab, West Bengal, and possibly some other states.

However, the MVA leaders are confident that ‘Roti will weigh over Ram’ in the public mind and the BJP would be compelled to speak and seek votes on ground realities rather than religion and caste in the poll campaign.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at:




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Title: Mandir, Maratha quota to dominate Maharashtra 2024 LS + Assembly polls

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