Maharashtra Assemly Elections: Day before counting, parties hold cards close to chest

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Maharashtra assembly elections
Mumbai, Oct 18: With less then 24 hours to go for the results to be out in one of the most keenly-watched assembly elections in Maharashtra, major parties are keeping their cards close to the chest as most exit polls projected a hung House.

While former saffron allies -- BJP and Shiv Sena are dismissing suggestions about coming together once again, claiming they would get an absolute majority, NCP led by wily Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar has exuded confidence it will play a major role in government formation.

Congress, predicted to lose heavily, is in a sulk with senior party leaders attacking former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for the "self-goal" over his remarks on three of his predecessors under scanner in the Adarsh scam and how acting against them would have "decimated" the party, avoiding making claims about being voted to power for a fourth straight term.

A day after apparently going soft on BJP by suggesting there should not be "bitterness any more", Shiv Sena today claimed that the party will secure an "absolute majority" and not need support from BJP.

"Maharashtra will get a one-party government, a stable government led by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. Our fight in this election was against BJP as Congress and NCP were like dead snakes.

"We had a relation of love and emotional bond with BJP. Hearts break when an ideological bond breaks. We want BJP to emerge as a strong opposition party. We will like to work together with them after forming a Shiv Sena government," party spokesman Sanjay Raut said.

Despite the apparent bravado, Shiv Sena continues to be a part of the ruling NDA at the Centre with its lone member in the Union Cabinet Anant Geete not been asked to step down either by his own leadership or by BJP, a move many liken to the door being kept ajar for possible a reunion in Maharashtra.

"There is no need to have arguments or bitterness any more. Hearts have been broken. Though it is difficult to mend broken hearts, Maharashtra needs stability and peace. It is better that we wait for the day of counting," Sena had said in an editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamana' yesterday, hinting at a possible reconciliation.

Raut, a Sena MP, also spoke about his party's differences with BJP over creation of Vidarbha state, a cause championed by the latter but vehemently opposed by the former even while they were together. "We will have to think over Vidarbha statehood. Our views may differ with other political parties but when you emerge stronger, many support you post-poll," he said when asked if taking support from NCP was an option.

PTI 

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