What will be the key poll factors in Maharashtra?

  • Agricultural distress, lack of jobs and reservations are the key issues for voters
  • The key constituencies to watch out for are Nanded, Solapur, Nagpur, Baramati, Latur, Nashik, Aurangabad, Thane, Ahmednagar, Mumbai-North and Mumbai-South

Maharashtra sends 48 elected representatives to the Lok Sabha, next only to Uttar Pradesh’s 80. The general elections in India’s second most populous state are spread over the first four of the total seven phases. Mint brings you a snapshot of the state’s electoral jigsaw.

What are the big numbers to look at in the western state?

There are 80.73 voters in the state this time against 80.07 million in the 2014 elections, when the voter turnout was 60.36%, according to the Election Commission. The population of Maharashtra is 112.30 million, according to the 2011 Census. Urban areas make up 45.2% of the population, making Maharashtra one of the most urbanised states of India. The sex ratio has improved from 922 in 2001 to 929 in 2011. The share of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes is 11.8% and 9.4%, respectively. The literacy level is 82.3%. About 44% are working class people, excluding those involved in agriculture.

What are the key issues for voters?

Agricultural distress, lack of jobs and reservations are the key issues for voters. Farmers of Maharashtra were always considered the most prosperous in the country. Despite this, the state has seen the highest number of street protests by farmers in the last three years due to non-remunerative farm prices. The state is among the biggest generators of employment in the country. However, the Marathas have demanded a quota for their community in education and jobs. The state government bowed to this demand and passed a bill proposing 16% quota for them in these two fields. This decision has been challenged in court.

Which are the key seats to watch out for?

The key constituencies to watch out for are Nanded, Solapur, Nagpur, Baramati, Latur, Nashik, Aurangabad, Thane, Ahmednagar, Mumbai-North and Mumbai-South.

Which are the key parties and alignments in the state?

The 2014 Lok Sabha poll results showed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had emerged as a force to reckon with in the state. It consolidated its position further in October, when it became the largest party in the assembly elections as well. In the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, BJP will contest 25 seats and its ally, Shiv Sena, 23. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress will fight the elections jointly though the two are yet to agree on the exact seat-share formula. NCP has fought on 22 seats and Congress on 26 under previous arrangements.

How are parties likely to fare this time?

BJP is not flexing its muscles much as it doesn’t want to distance its allies. It gave the Shiv Sena 23 seats, one more than what the regional party usually received in their more than 25-year-old alliance. Maharashtra, a state prone to scandals, has been silent on that front. High prices of properties had rendered them unaffordable for most people in some cities. But prices have dropped, something the working class is likely to appreciate. NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s decision of not contesting the polls and reports of discontent in the party could have a bearing on it and its ally Congress.

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