The Communist Party of India (Marxist) managed to retain one seat in the Maharashtra Assembly elections but its veteran tribal leader Jiva Pandu Gavit lost the polls.
CPI(M) candidate Comrade Vinod Nikole won the Dahanu (ST) assembly seat in the Palghar district by a margin of 4,742 votes. Nikole polled 72,068 votes, defeating the sitting BJP MLA Pascal Dhanare who polled 67,326 votes. Candidates of the MNS, BSP, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi and some independents were also in the fray, but all got miniscule votes.
Nikole is a 43-year-old Adivasi leader from a poor peasant family. He is a member of the CPI(M) Maharashtra State Committee, who has been a full-time party member for the last 15 years. He is the State Secretary and Thane-Palghar District Secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). He was a member of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) state committee till he was relieved earlier this year in the state conference.
He was among the 40,000 peasants who walked the entire 200 km route of the AIKS-led Kisan Long March from Nashik to Mumbai in March 2018, which was led by AKIS chief Dr Ashok Dhawale.
This is the ninth time the CPI(M) has won the Dahanu (earlier Jawhar) seat since 1978. "It was only once in 2014 that we lost it, but it has now been regained to the joy and ecstasy of all our comrades," said Dhawale.
However, Gavit, who is one of the senior Maharashtra legislators, lost the election from Kalvan (ST) seat in Nashik district.