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Issues that may shape vote in Maharashtra election

Issues that may determine the outcome in election
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Issues that may determine the outcome in election

Voting is underway in all 288 assembly constituencies of Maharashtra where 3,237 candidates, including 235 women, are in the fray. The BJP has fielded its nominees in 164 assembly seats, including candidates of smaller allies contesting on its lotus symbol, while Shiv Sena is contesting 124 seats. On the other hand, the opposition Congress has fielded 147 candidates and its ally NCP 121. Here are six factors that may determine the outcome in these elections:

BCCL
Maratha reservation
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Maratha reservation

The BJP-Sena regime's decision to appease Maharashtra's most dominant community with a 12% quota in educational institutions and government jobs is expected to have an impact on the outcome of the polls. The reservation, which is in addition to the newly introduced one for the economically weaker section (EWS), enabled BJP to make inroads beyond OBC and Brahmin constituencies into Maratha country. By plugging for it, Devendra Fadnavis-only the second Brahmin CM ever in the state- managed to earn the street cred he needed to come across as a mass le

BCCL
Article 370
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Article 370

The BJP has trumpeted its decision to nullify the special status enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir at every poll rally. But the Opposition has called the display of nationalism in a state poll a diversion. In any case, local issues such as drought relief or job loss have received less air time than the government's "brave" decision to bring J&K closer to the union. But will burnishing nationalist credentials strengthen the prospects of BJP's state unit? The verdict is still out.

BCCL
Corruption
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Corruption

The issue has a resonance that cuts across class and social divides. By projecting a tough-on-corruption stand, BJP has gained an upper hand. With a narrative focused on the Maharashtra Cooperative Bank scam and irrigation contracts of the past, NCP leaders have been pushed to explain their role in previous regimes. However, the probe has barely progressed despite prodding by courts. But the cases make headlines and opposition leaders have no recourse, except to paint themselves as victims of a vindictive establishment.

Agencies
Agrarian distress
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Agrarian distress

Maharashtra still records the most farmer suicides, more than 12,000 in the four years from 2015-1019. Drought and floods have left agriculturists in Vidarbha, Marathwada and western Maharashtra wringing their hands. Fadnavis regime's loan waiver benefited roughly 44 lakh of the 89 lakh farmers eligible. Rest are chafing at the delay in writing off their debts, which prevents them from raising fresh bank funds. While the state government claims agriculture output in 2018-19 has been better than in most drought years, production has fallen. Unable to realise better remuneration and dependent on support pricing, the rural sector still awaits reforms that are needed to make farming profitable. But will this impact on the election? That's a tough ask, given that many of the problems are legacy issues.

BCCL
Central & state schemes
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Central & state schemes

From the Prime Minister Samman Nidhi pension of Rs 6,000/year to insurance payouts for crop failure, from rural housing grants to toilets and farm ponds, each of these welfare schemes has high penetration and are expected to cushion the impact of anti-incumbency. Cumulatively, they are seen as signs of a government that works, even if it falls short of expectations.

BCCL
The Fadnavis factor
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The Fadnavis factor

The CM managed to steer a stable though sporadically unruly coalition through his term, providing continuity in decision-making and keeping broad parameters under control. His main focus was infrastructure development, which paved the way for big-ticket projects like Mumbai-Nagpur superhighway and Metro rail expansion in urban centres. With deadlines and targets, he kept the bureaucracy on its toes. Critics have, however, slammed his handling of the agriculture sector, questioned the poor outcomes in education, and pointed to government's inability to generate jobs despite a large industrial base.

BCCL
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Copyright © 2019 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service