Mumbai:Following the sad demise of stalwarts like former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Gopinath Munde, the only well respected mass leader of the BJP in Maharashtra, the state assembly election for both the Congress-NCP combine and the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is facing a leadership crisis. Election management skills of both the leaders were legendary.
The Congress-NCP combine is in a dilemma following the announcement by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan at Aurangabad that Congress is in a mood to contest the election on its own, if the seat sharing negotiations fail in the next two days. Prithviraj Chavan, known as an elite leader, has maintained a good personal image in the last four years.
Even social media like Twitter and Facebook are projecting a good number of seats for the Congress. According to a prediction the Congress is projected to win 100 seats, the NCP-51, the BJP-32 and the Shiv Sena-41 seats respectively which is contrary to many surveys, which has projected a clean sweep for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance.
However, it is a fact that Chavan has limited knowledge about the districts and grassroots level leaders as a major part of his political tenure was spent in New Delhi.
Vilasrao Deshmukh was well acquainted with the ground realities and issues. He was also a trouble shooter and a good crisis manager. He also had the ability to pacify rebels and disgruntled leaders as he had the skills to understand the aspirations and limitations of these leaders. Vilasrao was the only leader who could match the skills of the alliance partner NCP and had good equations with many NCP leaders in the state.
Many a times he had openly challenged the leadership of Shard Pawar, but at the same time always maintained a very cordial relationship with Pawar. Vilasrao is credited with resolving the fast unto death of social activist Anna Hazare at Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi in 2011 during the agitation for a strong Lokpal. The Congress is now missing him.
On the other hand, late Gopinath Munde was the most powerful mass leader of the BJP in Maharashtra. He was credited with carving out 'Maha-Yuti' where diverse forces like the RPI (Athawale), Shivsangram (an offshoot of Maratha Mahasangh) and Swabhimani Shetkari Sangthana came together under the umbrella of a 'grand alliance' against the Congress - NCP combine.
Many BJP workers express the opinion that if Gopinath Munde was there, such a situation would be averted. The Shiv Sena leaders were expecting more respect from the BJP. Had he been alive today, no leader from Delhi would have dared to interfere in the party affairs in Maharashtra. The untimely death of Munde has been a major setback for the alliance, they feel.