The anti-incumbency factor, rising farmers suicides and price rise notwithstanding, voters in Maharashtra have chosen to give the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance another go at governing the state for a third straight term.
Of the 269 results declared so far, the ruling combine has bagged 131, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance 87, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena 13, Republican Left Democratic Front 12 and others 26.
The Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party leaders are attributing their loss to the Raj Thackeray-led MNS, which made its maiden foray in the 288-member House.
"We lost because MNS ate into the traditional Shiv Sena votes," BJP general secretary Gopinath Munde said.
As Sharad Pawar-led NCP has made it clear that it will not stake claim to chief minister's post, the process of government formation is likely to get speeded up, a senior Congress leader said.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, in race for the top job, said the ruling alliance's performance was due to the dynamic leadership of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the team work by the Congress-NCP combine.
The MNS phenomenon, which led to defeat of Sena-BJP candidates in Mumbai and adjoining regions during the Lok Sabha polls, has resulted in the saffron alliance losing another chance to regain power.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar said Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray failed to impress voters in the state about the agenda of the opposition alliance.
The keenly-contested elections saw several ministers, including stalwarts like NCP's Vijaysinh Mohite Patil (Pandharpur) biting the dust.
The list of defeated ministers includes Surupsinh Naik, (Navapur), Sidhram Mhetre (Akkalkot), Madan Patil (Sangli), Shobha Bachav (Nashik), Rameshchandra Bang Hingana) and Ravi Patil (Kalyan rural) and Anees Ahmed (Nagpur west).
Daughter of slain BJP leader Poonam Mahajan (Ghatkopar West) lost to Ram Kadam of MNS. Leader of Opposition in Assembly Ramdas Kadam of Shiv Sena lost Guhagar seat to NCP's Bhaskar Jadhav.
Shalinitai Patil, widow of former chief minister Vasantdada Patil lost from Koregaon in western Maharashtra. The former NCP MLA had contested the poll as an independent. TV host Adesh Bandekar of Shiv Sena was defeated by Nitin Sardesai of MNS in Mahim seat.