Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Battle Royale between Thackerays and Ranes in South Konkan seacoast

The region is often referred to as Shiv Sena's ‘karmabhoomi’ as its voters in Mumbai and the larger Mumbai metropolitan region of Thane, Palghar and Raigad are migrant workers from South Konkan.
Last Updated : 07 May 2024, 15:01 IST
Last Updated : 07 May 2024, 15:01 IST

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Ratnagiri/Sindhudurg: Once known for its ‘money-order economy’, the twin districts of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg is all about its picturesque beaches, hill forts, sea forts, lush green environs, food and quiet locations - but when it comes to political supremacy, the battle could be full of aggression and fierce.

While once the coastal belt was synonymous with Balasaheb Thackeray, in the last two decades the two south Konkan districts are witnessing a battle between Uddhav Thackeray and his bete noire Narayan Rane.

The region is often referred to as Shiv Sena's ‘karmabhoomi’ as its voters in Mumbai and the larger Mumbai metropolitan region of Thane, Palghar and Raigad are migrant workers from South Konkan.

The exit of Rane from Shiv Sena to Congress and then to movement to BJP followed by the split in the Shiv Sena involving Eknath Shinde, the dynamics in the region has changed.

From Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg Lok Sabha seat, the BJP has fielded Narayan Rane (72), Union Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister against two-time sitting MP Vinayak Raut (70), who is now with the Shiv Sena (UBT) led by Thackeray.

Rane is a six-term MLA from the Kudal seat, however, in 2014, the then Congressman was defeated by Vaibhav Naik of Shiv Sena. In 2015, Rane again contested against Shiv Sena candidate Trupti Sawant from Mumbai’s Bandra East seat in bye-elections but lost. On tying up with BJP, he was sent to Rajya Sabha.

Raut is considered close to Thackeray, his son and Worli MLA Aaditya Thackeray and Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut.

The Lok Sabha seat is spread across two districts: Ratnagiri (Chiplun, Rajapur and Ratnagiri) and Sindhudurg (Kankavli, Kudal, Sawantwadi).

While two Vidhan Sabha seats are controlled each by Thackeray and BJP, one each is under control of BJP and Ajit Pawar-led NCP.

The twin districts have been the hotbed of two major agitations in recent times - against the nuclear power park project at Jaitapur and the super refinery project, which has been scrapped in Nanar and now proposed in Basru.

“The twin districts of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg in South Konkan are very unique in many respects. As far as politics is concerned, it is a battlefield involving the Thackerays and Ranes. While a lot has been done a lot more needs to be done. One has to strike a balance between environment and development and take the region which touches Goa, ahead and put it on an international map,” said Prashant Sawant, a Mumbai-resident, who hails from the Konkan region.

Rane, a former Chief Minister and ex-Leader of Opposition was expelled by Balasaheb in 2005 for raising a banner of revolt against Uddhav. Rane later joined the Congress to become a minister in the erstwhile Congress-NCP Democratic Front government. However, his dream of becoming the Chief Minister or the Maharashtra Congress President never realised and he left the grand old party in 2017. Rane floated Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha (MSP) which he later merged with the BJP and became a Rajya Sabha member. Thereafter, he was appointed a minister in the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre.

From Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Rane’s older son Dr Nilesh Rane won the seat on a Congress seat but was defeated in 2014 and 2019 by Shiv Sena’s Vinayak Raut, who is close to Uddhav and his son Aaditya Thackeray. In 2014, Nilesh contested on a Congress ticket and in 2019 on a MSP ticket, however, on both occasions, he was defeated by Raut, who before becoming a Lok Sabha member, was an MLA from Vile Parle in Mumbai and an ex-MLC.

Rane’s younger son Nitesh Rane is a BJP MLA from Kankavli, a seat from where he has represented Congress earlier.

"There is a lot of resentment against the BJP for engineering the split in the Shiv Sena and people have understood that the BJP’s intention was to finish the Shiv Sena,” said Raut, who is taking on Rane after having defeated his son twice.

“Thackeray has let the people of Konkan down,” says Rane, adding that had Balasaheb’s son pursued politics of development, things would have changed in Konkan vis-a-vis infrastructure. “However, after Narendra Modi assumed office at the Centre, a lot of focus has been given,” he said.

Vidhan Sabha segment:

Chiplun - Shekhar Nikam - NCP

Ratnagiri - Uday Samant - Shiv Sena

Rajapur - Rajan Salvi - Shiv Sena (UBT)

Kankavli - Nitesh Rane - BJP

Kudal - Vaibhav Naik - Shiv Sena (UBT)

Sawantwadi - Deepak Kesarkar - Shiv Sena

Total voters: 14,51,620

Male - 7,14,945

Female - 7,36,673

Third Gender - 12

Did you know?

Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg is part of the coastal belt of Maharashtra. The region is known for its tourism, food, cashew, mangoes. Alphonso mangoes of Ratnagiri is famous all over the world. Konkan is known for its ‘money-order-economy' and a sea-world type facility has been planned.

Fishing, horticulture, agriculture are the main revenue earners.

With picturesque seacoast that touches the Arabian Sea on one side and surrounded by Sahyadri hills on the other, region is an important tourism destination

To be noted!

On August 18, 1868, during the solar eclipse, Vijaydurg Fort was the site for the shortest distance between the Sun and the Earth. Hence, the famous French scientist Jenson and geologist Lockier came here and built rectangular platforms on which their telescopes were positioned. It was during this observation that scientists observed a yellow ring surrounding the Sun. On further research - it was named helium gas.

Published 07 May 2024, 15:01 IST

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