Uddhav, Rane to face off in Maharashtra's Konkan

Narayan Rane and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.

In a region known for its 'money-order economy' - the twin Konkan belt districts of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg - is witnessing a direct contest between Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and his bete noire Narayan Rane.

There are places where the BJP and Shiv Sena, the two saffron allies, are in direct confrontation with each other. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has thrown his weight behind Rane, who is the founder of Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha (MSP) and a BJP-sponsored Rajya Sabha member. A former CM during the erstwhile Shiv Sena-BJP regime, Rane later became leader of opposition but late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray expelled him from the party for raising a banner of revolt against Uddhav. Rane joined the Congress to become a minister but was sidelined and his dream or becoming CM again or state Congress chief never realised. He left Congress, formed the MSP and came to the NDA-fold.

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Spread in two districts and seven Vidhan Sabha seats of Sawantwadi, Kudal and Kankavli (Sindhudurg), Dapoli,  Guhagar,  Chiplun,  Ratnagiri and Rajapur (Ratnagiri), the region has seen protests by locals and the Shiv Sena against big projects like the Jaitapur nuclear power park and the Nanar super refinary.

 

In these constituencies, there are "rebels", "friends",  thus keeping everyone on tenterhooks. "Some of the constituencies will see extremely close fights, and results can go anyway" said Surendra Thakur, a businessman from Vengurla.

The keenly watched contest will be from Kankavli, the family seat of the Ranes. Rane's son Nitesh, a sitting Congress MLA, resigned and joined the BJP. He filed his nomination but the Shiv Sena having an electoral alliance with BJP, fielded Satish Sawant, a former aide of Rane. The Sena gave AB form to Sawant.

"There are several issues in the region and jobs tops the list," says veteran journalist Rajan Chavan, who is based in Oras. It is clearly a direct Rane-Uddhav battle for supremacy in Konkan region that is the bastion of Shiv Sena.

BJP's Sindhudurg district president Pramod Jathar is now working with the Ranes - though earlier he was opposed to them. In neighbouring Sawantwadi, minister of state for home Deepak Kesarkar is pitted against Independent Rajan Teli. 

"The Shiv Sena has presence in the region, people traditionally are with us," said Nitin Nandgaonkar of Shiv Sena, who 'exposed' an alleged passport scam, drug trade and arbitrarily acted against errant auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers in Mumbai and is now a social media star. He is touring the South Konkan belt extensively.

Senior politician Bhaskar Jadhav, who left the NCP to join Sena, is contesting from Guhaghar against Sehdev Betkar, a former party colleague.

The Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg Lok Sabha seat was represented in 2009 by Dr Nilesh Rane. Shiv Sena's Vinayak Raut has won the Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg seat in 2014 and 2019.

Did you know?

* Konkan is the coastal belt of Maharashtra
* Konkan is known for its tourism, food
* Alphonso mangoes of Ratnagiri is famous all over the world
* Konkan is known for its 'money-order-economy'
* A sea-world type facility has been planned in Konkan
* Fishing, horticulture, agriculture are revenue earners

On August 18, 1868, during the solar eclipse, Vijaydurg Fort was the site for the shortest distance between the Sun and the Earth. Hence, the famous French scientist Jenson and geologist Lockier came here and built rectangular platforms on which their telescopes were positioned. It was during this observation that scientists observed a yellow ring surrounding the Sun. On further research - it was named helium gas.

Tourism-rich region

With picturesque seacoast that touches the Arabian Sea on one side and surrounded by Sahyadri hills on the other, the vast Konkan region is an important tourism destination of Maharashtra and India. Also the Alphonso mangoes have a high demand throughout the country. Over the years, the region too has become politically important. Konkan comprises of five districts of Palghar, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg but technically Mumbai too is part of the Konkan region.

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