New Delhi, Oct. 9: The Congress-led alliance appears to have a thin edge over the Shiv Sena-BJP combine in the run-up to Wednesday's Assembly elections in Maharashtra.
An opinion poll conducted for The Telegraph and STAR News by A.C. Nielsen has projected 136 seats ' nine short of majority in the 288-member House ' for the ruling alliance, 122 for the Sena-BJP and 30 for smaller parties and Independents.
If the survey's 3 per cent margin of error is taken into account, the race becomes very close and a minor swing could make a big difference. The poll was conducted between September 25 and 30 and based on a sample size of 16,739 voters across the state.
The survey explodes the myth of the Thackeray dynasty's sway with only 6 per cent backing Bal Thackeray's son Uddhav for chief minister and 4 per cent supporting nephew Raj. In contrast, 25 per cent favours incumbent chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.
The survey indicates the Congress-NCP alliance has been able to fight anti-incumbency to some extent, with 46 per cent saying they were happy with the government's performance. Eleven per cent rated it as very good, 35 per cent as good and 34 per cent as average. That, in effect, means only 20 per cent were unhappy.
The demand for a state of Vidarbha appears unlikely to hit the Congress hard as 74 per cent respondents in the region opposed the division of Maharashtra. Even in Vidarbha town, 42 per cent supported the demand while 48 per cent opposed it. The BSP's Mayavati has been going all out on the issue.