Politics of Maharashtra

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Maharashtra is a state in the western region of India and is India's third-largest state by area. It has over 112 million inhabitants and its capital, Mumbai, has a population of approximately 18 million. Nagpur is Maharashtra's second, or winter, capital.[1] Government in the state is organized on the parliamentary system. Power is devolved to large city councils, district councils (Zila Parishad), sub-district (Taluka) councils, and the village parish councils (Gram panchayat). The politics of the state are dominated by the numerically strong MarathaKunbi community. There are national and regional parties in the state, serving different demographics, such as those based on religion, caste, urban and rural residents.

Government structure[edit]

A Gram panchayat office in a village in Maharashtra

State Government[edit]

The government of Maharashtra is conducted within a framework of parliamentary government, with a bicameral legislature consisting of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and the Maharashtra Legislative Council. The Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) is the lower chamber and consists of 288 members, who are elected for five-year terms. There are 25 and 29 seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and others, respectively.[2] The Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) is the upper chamber and is a permanent body of 78 members. The government of Maharashtra is headed by the Chief Minister, who is chosen by the party or alliance with a majority of members in the Legislative Assembly. The Chief Minister, along with the council of ministers, drives the legislative agenda and exercises most of the executive powers.[3] However, the constitutional and formal head of the state is the Governor, who is appointed for a five-year term by the President of India on the advice of the Union government.[4]

Maharashtra in Indian Parliament[edit]

Maharashtra elects members to both chambers of the Indian Parliament. Representatives to India's lower chamber, the Lok Sabha, are elected by adult universal suffrage, and a first-past-the-post system, to represent their respective constituencies. They hold their seats for five years or until the body is dissolved by the President on the advice of the council of ministers. Representatives to the upper chamber, the Rajya Sabha, are elected indirectly by the Vidhan Sabha members. Maharashtra elects 48 members out of 550 total elected members of the Lok Sabha and 19 out of 233 elected members of the Rajya Sabha.

Local government[edit]

There are three further levels of government below the state: districts (Zilla Parishad), Taluka(sub-divisions),[5] and Gram panchayat (village parish councils). The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act also stipulated representation in local government for women, the scheduled castes, and the scheduled tribes.[6] Cities and towns have their own separate governments. There are 36 districts in Maharashtra, which are typically grouped into six divisions, although there are no division-level governments. The state has a long tradition of powerful planning bodies at the district and local levels. Local self-governance institutions in rural areas number 34 zilla parishads, 355 Taluka Panchayat samitis, and 27,993 Gram panchayats. Urban areas in the state are governed by 26 Municipal Corporations, 222 Municipal Councils, four Nagar Panchayats, and seven Cantonment Boards.[7][8] The administration in each district is headed by a District collector, who belongs to the Indian Administrative Service and is assisted by a number of officers belonging to Maharashtra state services.[9] The Deputy Commissioner of Police, an officer belonging to the Indian Police Service and assisted by the officers of the Maharashtra Police Service, maintains law and order, in addition to handling related issues in each district. The Deputy Conservator of Forests, an officer belonging to the Indian Forest Service, manages the forests, environment, and wildlife of the district, assisted by the officers of Maharashtra Forest Service and Maharashtra Forest Subordinate Service.[10] Sectional development in the districts is looked after by the district head of each development department, such as Public Works, Health, Education, Agriculture, and Animal Husbandry.[11][12]

Administrative Divisions in India
Republic of India
StatesUnion Territories
Divisions
Districts or Zilla
District Sub-divisions
(Tehsils/Talukas)
Municipal Corporations
(Maha-Nagar-Palika)
Municipalities
(Nagar-Palika)
City Councils
(Nagar-Panchayat)
Villages
(Gram/Gaon)
Wards

Political parties & alliances[edit]

Sharad Pawar, A dominant political figure of Maharashtrian politics for close to forty years

Since its inception in 1960, and also of predecessor states such as Bombay, the politics of Maharashtra has been dominated by the Indian National Congress party.[13] Maharashtra became a bastion of Congress party stalwarts such as Yashwantrao Chavan, Vasantdada Patil, Vasantrao Naik, and Shankarrao Chavan.

Sharad Pawar has been a significant personality in state and national politics for nearly forty years. During his career, he has split Congress twice, with significant consequences for state politics.[14][15] After his second parting from the Congress party in 1999, Sharad Pawar formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) but joined a Congress-led coalition to form the state government after the 1999 Assembly elections.

The Congress party enjoyed a nearly unchallenged dominance of the state political landscape, until 1995 when the coalition of Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured an overwhelming majority in the state, beginning a period of coalition governments.[16] Shiv Sena was the larger party in the coalition. From 1999 until 2014, the NCP and INC formed one coalition while Shiv Sena and the BJP formed another for three successive elections, which the INC-NCP alliance won. Prithviraj Chavan of the Congress party was the last Chief Minister of Maharashtra under the Congress-NCP alliance that ruled until 2014.[17][18][19]

For the 2014 assembly polling, the alliances between the NCP and Congress and between the BJP and Shiv Sena broke down over seat allocations. In the election, the largest number of seats went to the BJP, with 122 seats. The BJP initially formed a minority government under Devendra Fadnavis; but as of December 2014, Shiv Sena has entered the Government, which now enjoys a comfortable majority in the Maharashtra Vidhansabha.[20]

Other parties in the state include the All India Forward Bloc, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, the Communist party of India, the Peasant and workers party, the All India Majlis-e Ittihad al-Muslimin, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, the Samajwadi Party, various factions of the dalit-dominated Republican Party of India, the Bahujan Samaj Party, and the Socialist party.[21]

Dominant groups in Maharashtra politics[edit]

After the state of Maharashtra was formed on 1 May 1960, the INC was long without a major challenger, and enjoyed overwhelming support from the state's influential sugar co-operatives, as well as thousands of other cooperatives, such as rural agricultural cooperatives involved in the marketing of dairy and vegetable produce, credit unions, etc.[22]

For the better part of the late-colonial and early post-independence periods in Bombay state and its successor, Maharashtra state, the politics of the state have been dominated by the mainly rural MarathaKunbi caste,[23] which accounts for 31% of the population of Maharashtra. They dominate the cooperative institutions; and with the resultant economic power, control politics from the village level up to the Assembly and Lok Sabha.[24][25]

As of December 2016, of the 366 MLAs (Legislative Assembly has 288 MLAs and Legislative Council has 78) combined, 169 (46%) are Marathas.[26] Major past political figures of the Congress party from Maharashtra—such as Keshavrao Jedhe, Yashwantrao Chavan,[27] Shankarrao Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh, and Sharad Pawar—have been from this group. Of the 18 Chief Ministers so far, as many as 10 (55%) have been Maratha.[28] Since the 1980s, this group has also been active in setting up private educational institutions.[29][30][31]

Following disputes between Sharad Pawar and the INC president Sonia Gandhi, the state's political status quo was upset when Pawar defected from the INC, which was perceived as the vehicle of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, to form the Nationalist Congress Party. This offshoot of the Congress party is nevertheless dominated by the Maratha community.

Shiv Sena was formed in the 1960s by Balashaheb Thackerey, a cartoonist and journalist, to advocate and agitate for the interests of Marathi people in Mumbai. Over the following decades, Shiv Sena slowly expanded, and took over the then Bombay corporation in the 1980s. The original base of the party was among lower middle and working class Marathi people in Mumbai and the surrounding urban areas, the leadership of the party came from educated people. However, since 1990s there has been dada-ization of the party.[32] By the number of Marathas elected on the Shiv Sena ticket in the last few elections, the party is emerging as another Maratha party.[33]

The BJP is closely related to the RSS and is part of the Sangh Parivar. The party originally derived its support from the urban upper castes, such as Brahmins and non-Maharashtrians. In recent years the party has been able to penetrate the Maratha community by fielding Maratha candidates in elections.[34]

The Shiv Sena–BJP coalition came to power at the state level in 1995, which was a blow to the INC. In 2006, a split within Shiv Sena emerged when Bal Thackeray anointed his son Uddhav Thackeray as his successor over his nephew Raj Thackeray. Raj Thackeray then left the party and formed a new party called Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). Raj Thackeray, like his uncle, has also tried to win support from the Marathi community by embracing anti-immigrant sentiment in Maharashtra, for instance against Biharis.

After the Maratha–Kunbi, the Mahars are numerically the second largest community. Most of the Mahars are followers of Buddhism and fall under the scheduled caste (SC) group. Since the time of B. R. Ambedkar, the Mahar community has supported various factions of the Republican Party of India (RPI). There are 25 seats reserved for tje SC. Parties such as NCP, BJP, and the Congress field candidates from other Hindu SC groups like Mang and Chambhar for the reserved seats, to thwart the candidates of the RPI.[35]

2014 Assembly Election[edit]

The 2014 assembly election followed a landslide national victory of the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, which brought the Narendra Modi to power as prime minister. All major parties in the state (BJP, Shivsena, INC, and NCP) contested the elections on their own, leading to a complex and much-contested election. The BJP put together an alliance of upper castes, the Other Backward Class (OBC), and to some extent the Dalit to fight the Maratha-led Congress and NCP.[36] The results were significant in that the BJP received the highest number of seats, despite being historically smaller than Shiv Sena in the state. Although the BJP still required Shiv Sena's support to form a majority, it progressed from being a minor party in state politics to the party of the chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, who holds that position now.

2019 Lok Sabha elections[edit]

In April 2019, voting for the 48 Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra was held in four phases.

Despite their differences, the BJP and Shiv Sena once again contested the elections together under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) banner.[37] Similarly, the Congress and NCP had their own seat-sharing arrangement. The breakaway party of Raj Thakre, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, did not contest any seats, and instead urged their supporters to vote for the NCP–Congress alliance, Thakre campaigning for candidates belonging to these parties.[38]

The results of the election on 23 May 23 2019 was another landslide victory for the NDA, with the BJP and Shiv Sena winning 23 and 18 seats, respectively, out of the total of the state's 48 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress party won only one seat in the state whereas the NCP won five seats from its stronghold of western Maharashtra.[39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bhushan Kale (10 December 2014). "उपराजधानी ते राजधानी 'शिवनेरी'ची सवारी" [Uparājdhānī tē Rājdhānī' śivanērī'cī Savārī]. Divya Marathi (in Marathi). Nagpur, Maharashtra, India. Archived from the original on 23 June 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ "Legislative assembly Maharashtra". Congress. Maharashtra Congress. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
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  6. ^ Baviskar, B.S. (editor); Mathew, George (2008). Inclusion and exclusion in local governance : field studies from rural India. London: SAGE. p. 318. ISBN 9788178298603.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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  8. ^ "State body info". Government of Maharashtra. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ "District Deputy Commissioner". Ministry of Rural Development. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  10. ^ "Office of Chief Conservator of Forests & Deputy Director General, Social Forestry" (PDF). Government Of Maharashtra. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 20 September 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ "Sectoral Skill Development Committees" (PDF). National Skill Development Corporation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2014. Retrieved 20 September 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ "Regional Structure, Growth and Convergence of Income in Maharashtra" (PDF). Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 20 September 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ Brass, Paul R. (2006). The politics of India since independence (2nd ed.). [New Delhi]: Cambridge University Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-0521543057. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  14. ^ Wilkinson, Steven (January 2005). "Elections in India: Behind the Congress Comeback". Journal of Democracy. 16 (1): 153–167. doi:10.1353/jod.2005.0018.
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  34. ^ Vora, Rajendra (2009). "Chapter 7 Maharashtra or Maratha Rashtra". In Kumar, Sanjay; Jaffrelot, Christophe (eds.). Rise of the plebeians? : the changing face of Indian legislative assemblies. New Delhi: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415460927.
  35. ^ Vora, Rajendra (2009). "Chapter 7 Maharashtra or Maratha Rashtra". In Kumar, Sanjay; Jaffrelot, Christophe (eds.). Rise of the plebeians? : the changing face of Indian legislative assemblies. New Delhi: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415460927.
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  38. ^ "Raj Thackeray, Dhananjay Munde in demand to campaign for Cong". April 11. PTI. 2019.
  39. ^ https://www.esakal.com/loksabha-2019/result

Further reading[edit]