Marathwada region to witness keen contest

Marathwada region to witness keen contest

Marathwada region to witness keen contest

As the Marathwada region is poised for a multi-cornered contest, political stalwarts Vilasrao Deshmukh and Gopinath Munde are being missed.  

With nature’s vagaries like drought, recent hailstorm and poor economic development in the region, the Congress and its former ally, the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), would be witnessing anti-incumbency. However, the split in the saffron alliance Shiv Sena-BJP and the developing political situation has left the voters confused.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress won two of the eight seats from here – while Shiv Sena and BJP bagged three each. Interestingly, the two seats of the total 48 seats that Congress won from Maharashtra are from Marathwada, viz, Nanded and Hingoli. With his win from Nanded in the Lok Sabha elections, veteran Congressman Ashok Chavan emerged as one of the big leaders from the Marathwada region.

In the 2009 Assembly elections, of the total 46 seats Congress won 18, NCP bagged 13, Shiv Sena 7, BJP 2 and Independents/Others won 6 seats.

While the October 15 polls would clearly be a four-cornered contest, the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the All India Majlis Ittehadul (MIM) would also make a difference. The Asaduddin Owaisi-led MIM is putting up strong candidates in the Marathwada region including Nanded and Aurangabad.

After winning seats in places like Nanded in the recently-concluded civic elections, the party worked out a strategy to expand its base in Marathwada districts which were part of erstwhile Hyderabad state and to look at areas in Vidarbha and Konkan, which have significant Muslim pockets.

There are two chief ministerial aspirants – while former chief minister Ashok Chavan is one of the contenders, a section of BJP leaders has hailed Pankaja Munde-Palve, the daughter of late Gopinath Munde and niece of late Pramod Mahajan as the future chief minister.

Stalwarts missed

Political observers said that the politics in Marathwada is always interesting but this is the first elections when two stalwarts would not be there – Vilasrao Deshmukh and Gopinath Munde. While Deshmukh, a two-time chief minister and a former union minister, died on August 14, 2012, Munde, a former deputy chief minister and ex-union minister died on June 3, 2014, following a road accident in New Delhi. “They shared a good relationship and were each other’s critics too,” they said.

Munde was an MP from Beed – and in the byelections, BJP fielded his daughter Dr Preetam Munde. The Parli Assembly seat would be contested by Pankaja Munde-Palve, who would take on her cousin Dhananjay Munde of the NCP. The Shiv Sena has not put up candidates against Munde’s daughters as Sena President Uddhav Thackeray publicly said that he would not like to contest against his sisters.

Bokhar would witness an interesting contest where Ameeta Chavan, the wife of Ashok Chavan and daughter-in-law of late union home minister and ex-CM Shankarrao Chavan is contesting.