The Bharatiya Janata Party, with its alliance partner the Shiv Sena, won a comfortable victory in the Maharashtra Assembly elections on Thursday. However, the party’s tally fell from its 2014 figure in the Maharashtra elections, as the Nationalist Congress Party made significant gains. In Haryana, the BJP emerged as the single largest but failed to secure a majority, and will have to rely on alliances to form the government.
The Times of India ran with the headline “Pawar Slows BJP, Sena seeks more power”. The newspaper said that the two verdicts raise questions about the effectiveness of the BJP’s nationalism plank in local elections. It also said that matters like caste and a slowing economy seemed to impact the elections. The newspaper opined that corruption charges against Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Haryana Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda did not seem to affect the outcome of the polls.
The Hindustan Times used the headline “BJP Wins, Opposition Rises”. The newspaper focused on how “old warhorses” like Pawar and Hooda waged a new battle against the BJP. At the same time, it said that the saffron party had managed to “fend off” the Opposition’s challenge. “The polls have also brought into focus the intersection of national and state elections,” the daily said.
The Indian Express said “BJP, But...” It said that while the BJP-Shiv Sena were set for a second term in Maharashtra, they had been “shaken by Pawar play”, a play on the term “power play”. The newspaper said that Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar would have to rely on independents to hold on to power. It added that the Congress had seen a “glimmer of hope” with its performances in the Maharashtra and Haryana polls, even though its leader Rahul Gandhi had “stayed in the shadow”. Gandhi had addressed just four rallies in Maharashtra before the polls.
The Telegraph claimed that the BJP’s “arrogance of Article 370” had been “abrogated” with the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly poll results. It was an obvious reference to the BJP’s focus on the removal of special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, during its election campaigns.
The Telegraph said that the message to the Opposition from these polls was that it must “wake up and fight”. The newspaper said that in Haryana, the BJP had learned that bad governance cannot be rewarded just because of the lack of a credible alternative.
Loksatta focused on the BJP-Shiv Sena’s inability to cross the 220-seat mark, a claim it had made during the election campaign in Maharashtra. The newspaper credited Sharad Pawar for taking the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance to win close to 100 seats. It featured a cartoon of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray taking cover under an umbrella during heavy rain, protecting a mud fort they had constructed, while Pawar holds a cracker next to them.
The Navbharat Times said that voters gave every party a fair number of seats. “The voters have said Happy Diwali to every party”, its headline read. The newspaper said that the BJP is happy that it managed to hold on to both states, the Congress’ performance in Haryana was a miracle, and the Nationalist Congress Party had won a moral victory. It said that the BJP’s failure to secure a majority in Maharashtra on its own meant that it would be easy for the Shiv Sena to put forth its demands to the saffron party.
Gujarati daily Sandesh carried a simple headline: “In Maharashtra, a BJP-Sena government; in Haryana, a hung house”. The daily said that while the Nationalist Congress Party gave the BJP a good fight in Maharashtra, the Congress and Janta Jannayak Party gave the saffron party a scare in Haryana.
It said that in Haryana, Dushyant Chautala was the factor that split the mandate between the BJP and Congress. The daily also said that the BJP is likely to accept the Shiv Sena’s 50:50 formula arrived at in Maharashtra, after failing to secure a majority on its own.
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