The Solapur LS seat was lost due to Sharad Pawar's alleged machinations, backing the Sena-BJP candidate Pratapsinh Mohite-Patil. The latter, incidentally, is the brother of NCP leader and PWD minister in the S.C. Shinde cabinet, Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil. Pawar even admitted there was some "confusion" among NCP workers because of loyalties to the Patil family. Whatever the reason, Congress nominee Anandrao Deokate, a minister in the Shinde government who had vacated his assembly seat to clear the way for the CM's entry into the state legislature, was crushed by over 1.2 lakh votes.
Equally humiliating was the defeat in Ernakulam. And it's come as a double whammy for the Congress in Kerala. Karunakaran's ultimatum literally puts the high command in a bind. They can't afford to let him go, nor can they cow down to his demands and endanger Antony's coalition government. To make matters worse, the Left parties have suddenly discovered virtues in their once much-reviled foe, the strategy being to exploit the internal contradictions in the 'bourgeois' party. "We don't go by individuals, we judge issues on merit," said CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan on the sidelines of a central committee meet in Delhi last week, going on to add that the party would give outside support to "an alternate government". Karunakaran has reportedly opened a line to Sharad Pawar also. Maharashtra forest minister Subash Thackeray (NCP) had visited Kochi a few days before the elections, ostensibly on a pilgrimage, and met the leader's loyalists at a city hotel. What transpired is anybody's guess. Ex-MP P.C. Chacko, a Karunakaran ally who is close to the Maratha strongman, denies any such meeting but admits "the party is pushing Karunakaran to go the Pawar way (quitting the Congress)".