Focus to be on Bhujbals, Khadses in North Maharashtra

Representative image. (PTI photo)

The focus in the North Maharashtra region would be the sidelined Bhujbal and Khadse families as they attempt a comeback into the mainstream.

The BJP-Shiv Sena saffron alliance is facing rebellion in the region that gives the opposition some edge. The region houses the onion, grapes and banana belt of India. The fluctuations of onion prices and production-supply gap at Lasalgaon, the biggest trading centre of onion in Asia, has troubled the farmers.

While Nashik is the origin of Godvari river, it is a pilgrimage centre and hosts the Kumbh mela every 12 years, Nandurbar-Dhule is a tribal belt.

Former deputy chief minister and veteran NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal and his son Pankaj, both sitting MLAs, are contesting the Yeola and Nandgaon seats of Nashik district. Bhujbal nephew Sameer lost the Lok Sabha polls from Nashik. The Bhujbal uncle-nephew were arrested by ED and ACB in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan scam, and, are currently on bail. A former Shiv Sainik and ex-Congressman, Bhujbal Sr, also the founder of Mahatma Phule Samata Parishad and considered the closest aide of NCP founder Sharad Pawar, is engaged in a war of words with Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar.

Also, political observers are closely watching the contest at Muktainagar in Jalgaon distrct. Here, Eknath Khadse, once No 2 in the Devendra Fadnavis government, has been denied ticket but his daughter Rohini has been given ticket. Khadse's daughter-in-law Raksha is a BJP MP from Raver. Khadse has to resign from ministry in the wake of alleged corruption charges. Khadse, who belongs to Leva Patil community and Bhujbal and belongs to Mali community, is among top OBC leaders of the state.

Rebellion in the BJP-Sena camp can tilt scales here and there. In Jalgaon Rural, Sena's official candidate Gulabrao Patil is facing a BJP rebel, while Rohini is up against Sena rebel Chandrakant Patil, who has been backed by Congress-NCP.

The entire Sena unit of Nashik with 36 corporators and over 300 officebearers quit in protest against BJP MLA Seema Hirey being given ticket from Nashik West and declared support to party rebel Vilas Shinde.

Fadnavis's Man Friday and Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan is contesting polls from Jamner. On the issue of rebels, Patil and Mahajan recently had a verbal duel.
From the tribal seat of Nandurbar, BJP's Dr Vijaykumar Gavit will take on Congress leader Uday Padvi. Dr Gavit had resigned from NCP in 2014. His daughter Dr Heena Gavit is a two-term MP from Nandurbar.

Total seats: 35

BJP - 14  
Shiv Sena - 7
Congress - 7
NCP - 5
CPI(M) - 1
Others - 1
 

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