Maharashtra will go for second phase of polling on April 18 with 10 seats. Out of these 10, three are from Vidarbha, six from Marathwada and one is from Western Maharashtra. In 2014, BJP-Shiv Sena alliance had won eight out of these 10 seats.
Congress had won only two seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and these two seats will go to polls on Thursday. So, the challenge before Congress-led alliance is to increase the tally. Whereas, the BJP and Shiv Sena will be striving to maintain the numbers.
On the other hand, Maharashtra is facing unprecedented drought this year. State government has already declared half of the state drought-affected. All 10 constituencies polling in this phase are facing the drought and related issues.
The acute water shortage, failure to give relief to the farmers during the deepening agricultural crisis would be the major issues in the state. Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance have targeted the BJP government in Maharashtra on these issues. Whereas, BJP-Sena have been trying to sell nationalism.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has addressed three rallies in the state till now for this phase. During these rallies, he attacked Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for choosing minority-dominated constituency of Wayanad in Kerala as his second seat. Modi asked NCP chief Sharad Pawar how he could sit with people who include ‘anti-national’ issues in their manifesto. Pawar, on the other hand slammed Modi for his failures, and advised him not to “play with fire”.
Congress has fielded two of its senior leaders Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde from Nanded and Solapur respectively. From BJP's side, Beed LS constituency will see high profile candidate Preetam Munde, daughter of late Gopinath Munde, contesting.
Solapur constituency is witnessing close fight between Shinde and Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh’s Prakash Ambedkar. Ambedkar after forming an alliance with All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeez's (AIMIM) Asaduddin Owaisi, aims to emerge as the leader of the deprived class of state. Battle for Solapur will certainly have an impact on upcoming Assembly elections in the state.
In this phase Congress is contesting from five seats; NCP is contesting from four seats, CPI(M) from one, Shiv Sena from five and BJP from five seats.
The first phase that concluded on April 11 was considered to be comparatively easy for BJP-Sena alliance as East Vidarbha has been perceived as the BJP bastion since 2014. However, many political pundits observed that BJP-Sena struggled hard in their home pitch itself.