Maharashtra elections throw up interesting political combinations

PTI
Monday, 14 May 2018

Interesting political permutations and combinations have emerged in polls for two Lok Sabha seats, an Assembly seat and six Legislative Council seats in Maharashtra, scheduled this month. Bypolls for Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha constituencies and Palus-Kadegaon Assembly seat will be held on May 28.

Mumbai: Interesting political permutations and combinations have emerged in polls for two Lok Sabha seats, an Assembly seat and six Legislative Council seats in Maharashtra, scheduled this month. Bypolls for Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha constituencies and Palus-Kadegaon Assembly seat will be held on May 28.

The by-elections were necessitated because of the resignation of Nana Patole as the BJP MP from Bhandara-Gondia and deaths of sitting BJP MP Chintaman Wanga (Palghar near Mumbai) and Congress MLA Patangrao Kadam (Palus-Kadegaon).

Major parties are in a seat-sharing agreement for the May 21 Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) biennial elections for six seats from local bodies constituencies.

With Shiv Sena fielding Wanga's son Shriniwas in Palghar, the seat has become crucial for BJP, which has fielded Rajendra Gavit, former Congress MLA and and MoS for sports. Congress' Damoo Barku Shingada and Bahujan Vikas Aghadi's Baliram Jadhav are also in the fray.

"Shiv Sena played an unexpected and unfortunate game of fielding Shriniwas Wanga but BJP will win these elections," Keshav Upadhye, state BJP spokesperson, said. Despite Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis stressing on BJP having a strong base in Palghar district, the last-minute induction of Gavit hasn't sent out a good message, a BJP leader said.

Fadnavis defended Gavit's candidature saying, "There are 10 per cent people who join BJP from other parties because of our work and vision for development." Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, "BJP has fielded Gavit, who contested the 2014 election against Wanga and lost. This indicates that BJP lacks confidence," he added.

Sena had cornered BJP by extending its support to Congress candidate Vishwajeet Kadam in the Palus-Kadegaon bypoll. The death of Kadam's father and former minister Patangrao Kadam in March necessitated the bypoll.
BJP candidate Sangramsingh Deshmukh today withdrew from the fray, ensuring that Vishwajit's win is a formality. Kadam will now face a few independent candidates on May 21.

The last-minute withdrawal of nomination by NCP candidate Ramesh Karad in the Osmanabad-Latur-Beed local authorities constituency has left his party red-faced. Karad, a staunch supporter of BJP leader and minister for women and child development and rural development Pankaja Munde, had joined NCP and immediately dclared the candidate.

NCP has decided to support independent candidate Ashok Jagdale, who today issued a statement saying, "If elected, I will join NCP in the Upper House." BJP has fielded former NCP minister Suresh Dhas for this bypoll. In the Parbhani-Hingoli local authorities constituency BJP rebel Suresh Nangare is in fray, along with Shiv Sena's Viplav Bajoria and Congress' Suresh Deshmukh.

BJP's Rajya Sabha member and former chief minister Narayan Rane has declared his support to NCP candidate Aniket Tatkare in the Raigad-Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg local authorities constituency, against Sena's Rajeev Sabale. The six Council bypolls are being held as three members of NCP, two of BJP, and a Congress MLC are retiring from the Upper House of the state legislature on June 21.

The six constituencies where Council polls will be held are: Raigad-Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Parbhani-Hingoli, Nashik, Wardha-Chandrapur-Gadchiroli, Amravati, and Osmanabad-Latur-Beed. The Congress and the NCP jointly ruled Maharashtra for 15 years from 1999 to 2014. However, their alliance fell ahead of the October 2014 Assembly polls, which saw the BJP coming to power in the state. Assembly polls are due in Maharashtra in the second half of 2019. 

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