Cong-NCP fight to be bitter in west M'rashtra

Cong-NCP fight to be bitter in west M'rashtra

In the run up to the Assembly polls, the Congress and NCP decided to call off their 15-year-old alliance.

The impact of this political divorce will be felt the most in western Maharashtra, where top leaders from the two parties, including several chief ministerial aspirants, are in the fray.

The verbal duel between former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who is contesting from Karad South, and NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is a curtain raiser of what is to come ahead of the October 15 polls.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the NCP won all its four seats from western Maharashtra, while the Shiv Sena won two, BJP three and Raju Shetti, the farmers’ leader and founder of Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana (SSS).

In the 2009 Assembly polls, of the total 70-odd seats, the NCP won 31, Congress 15, BJP 10, Shiv Sena 10 and Independents/Others 4.The main fight will be between the Congress and NCP, though the Shiv Sena and BJP would matter. In Kolhapur district, Shetti’s SSS will spell trouble for the NCP. Mahadev Jankar’s Rashtriya Samaj Paksha will give a tough challenge to the NCP.

Chavan is up against Vilaskaka Patil-Undalkar, who had been representing the Karad South constituency but was denied a ticket by the Congress this time and is contesting as an independent, and Ajinkya Patil, the son of Bihar Governor D Y Patil.  Western Maharashtra, which has several sugar mills, educational institutions and witnessed rapid industrialisation, is like home turf for Pawar. The NCP would also have to gear up in Pune, which has four Lok Sabha seats and 24 Assembly seats.  Pawar’s daughter is at present an MP from Baramati, while cousin Ajit will be contesting from the Baramati Assembly segment.

Ajit has been questioned about his role in the Rs 70,000-crore irrigation scam. His comments last year on water availability has not gone down well and he had to tender an apology. Ajit had remarked against farmer-activist from Solapur, Prabhakar Deshmukh, who had been on a dharna to press for his demand for water by saying, “Who is this Deshmukh.. what is the point of his uposhan? Will it yield water? When there is no water where will I arrange water from? Should I urinate?” 

On the power crisis and load-shedding he said: “After all, what does one do if there is no power? When you are idle, you engage in making babies”.

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