Cong's old bastion now rivals' breeding ground

Cong's old bastion now rivals' breeding ground

Cong's old bastion now rivals' breeding ground

 The winter morning of January 23, 1998 – the 101st birth anniversary of Subhas Chandra Bose – held much promise for the Congress in the tribal belt of Nandurbar in Maharashtra


 The party’s then star campaigner, Sonia Gandhi, had gone there to address a mammoth rally where she said, “I am not interested in holding a position of power, but will continue to serve the country in its path to progress and prosperity.” 

Sonia went on to become Congress president in March 1998 and led her party to victory in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections True to her word, she refused the post of prime minister to give it to Manmohan Singh. The Nandurbar Lok Sabha had been held by the Congress since 1967 and was a traditional bastion for the party.

But matters changed in the Nandurbar since this year’s Lok Sabha elections, wherein nine-time Congress MP and then Union minister of state for social justice Manikrao Gavit was defeated by BJP’s Neena Gavit.

The Nandurbar Lok Sabha seat has four Assembly segments – Akkalkuwa, Shahada, Nandurbar and Navapur. Together, the Gavits, although from different party folds, seem to be overpowering the Congress in this tribal-dominated belt.

Neena Gavit is the daughter of Dr Vijaykumar Gavit, who was the medical education minister in the Democratic Front government. However, Vijaykumar, once a close aide of NCP founder Sharad Pawar, was expelled from the NCP in the wake of his daughter joining the BJP.

He has now joined the BJP and is contesting from the Nandurbar Assembly seat. Vijaykumar’s brother Sharad Gavit, who won the 2009 elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket, has now switched to the NCP and is contesting from Navapur.