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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Castes, farmers and drought to decide Marathwada outcome

Extreme weather events, water crisis, farmers’ issues, and the Maratha reservation demand and the resistance of OBCs to it are some of the crucial factors that would determine the fate in the vast Marathwada region.
Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 21:58 IST
Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 21:58 IST

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When activist Manoj Jarange-Patil undertook four hunger strikes demanding reservation for the Marathas and as it triggered a resistance from the OBCs, it became clear that the quota issue would be a dominant factor in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. 

The BJP’s MADHAV formula, an acronym for the Mali, Dhangar and Vanjari communities, is expected to consolidate support from the communities who are broadly categorised as OBCs even as the DMK factor, which is the Deshmukh-Maratha-Kunbi combo, would also be in play. 

“The Marathas are living under exceptional circumstances and extraordinary backwardness. Around 21% stay below poverty line as against state’s average of 17.4%; 94% of farmers who died by suicide are Marathas. If you look at the situation, Marathwada has been affected by drought, unseasonal rainfall, thunderstorms and floods over the last five to seven years,” said Satish Pawar, a farmer in Nanded. 

Extreme weather events, water crisis, farmers’ issues, and the Maratha reservation demand and the resistance of OBCs to it are some of the crucial factors that would determine the fate in the vast Marathwada region. 

“The government has done what the Marathas have been demanding. The government is addressing all the issues and has reached out to people,” says former chief minister Ashok Chavan, who recently left the Congress and joined the BJP. 

To cheer the Marathas, the state government had in the last year renamed Aurangabad district as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar, after the son of Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji, and Osmanabad as Dharashiv. 

The eight Lok Sabha seats of Marathwada would go to polls in three phases — Nanded, Parbhani and Hingoli in Phase-2 (April 26), Osmanabad and Latur (SC) in Phase-3 (May 7), and Aurangabad, Jalna and Beed in Phase-4 (May 13).

While the main contest would be between the two alliances — Maha Yuti and Maha Vikas Aghadi — there are other players as well. Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) headed by former Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao and the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) are also testing poll waters here. 

The fate of several seasoned politicians, including Union Minister of State for Railways Raosaheb Patil-Danve, BJP’s national general secretary Pankaja Munde, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Chandrakant Khaire, and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha founder Mahadev Jankar, will be decided in this polls. 

Danve, a five-time MP who  is contesting from Jalna, is facing Congress candidate Kalyan Kale, a former MLA from Phulambri, who is considered a tough opponent. 

In Beed, BJP’s Pankaja Munde is contesting her first Lok Sabha polls. From Nanded, sitting BJP MP Prataprao Chikalikar would take on Vasantrao Chavan. 

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Published 22 April 2024, 21:58 IST

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