Palghar: War of Words to Bonhomie

Last Updated 25 April 2019, 09:14 IST
Nearly a year ago, during the Shiv Sena vs BJP bye-election to Palghar - Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said that he asked BJP workers to emerge victorious even if they have to use - "saam, daam, daand, bhedh".

What followed is the bitter war-of-words and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray went to the extent of saying that "chowkidar chor hai" - a phrase used by Congress president Rahul Gandhi to target prime minister Narendra Modi.

In February-March, after a series of phone calls and a one-on-one meeting between BJP president Amit Shah and Uddhav, the saffron alliance partners announced a deal for contesting the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections together.

The Palghar (ST) seat is now headed for a direct contest between Shiv Sena's Rajendra Gavit and Baliram Jadhav of Hitendra Thakur-led Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA).

It may be recalled, sitting MP Chintaman Vanaga of BJP died on 30 January 2018, following a massive heart attack while he was in New Delhi. The Shiv Sena inducted his son Srinivas Vanaga and announced his candidature to BJP's surprise and displeasure. It was all on Fadnavis to handle the situation and he brought in Congressman and former minister Rajendra Gavit, a veteran tribal leader to contest. There was a fierce five-cornered contest involving junior Vanaga (Sena), Gavit (BJP), Damu Shingda (Congress), Jadhav (BVA) and Kiran Gahla of CPI (M). Gavit won defeating Vanaga, while the third and fourth position were occupied by BVA, CPI (M) and Congress was a poor fifth.

During the seat-sharing talks, the Sena demanded the Palghar seat which the BJP agreed. What is interesting is that Sena had to "import" Gavit, the sitting BJP MP to contest and decided to accommodate Vanaga in the Vidhan Sabha.

Now while Gavit is a candidate of the BJP-Sena alliance, Jadhav is the candidate of the Congress-NCP led 56-party front and that makes it a battle of nerves.
Incidentally, this time the Election Commission allotted the "auto" symbol for BVA instead of the "whistle" used by them for decades.

"We have been working in the region for several years and have a proven track record," said Thakur, an MLA from Vasai. His son, Kshitij Thakur is an MLA from neighbouring Nalasopara. Thakur Sr's wife Pravina Thakur is a former mayor of Vasai-Virar City Municipal Corporation.

Gavit said that he is in touch with locals and addressing various issues and infrastructure needs.

Ahead of the elections, the state government announced project to connect Vasai-Virar with Mumbai through Metro.

The Palghar seat comprises of the Vasai-Virar belt, one of the fastest growing urban conglomerations, rural areas, farmland and tribal areas. It is cosmopolitan, but also has a huge tribal area and the original inhabitants like agris and kolis.

"The Palghar seat is one of the most unique seats in India. It has the sea on one side, an agricultural zone, several industrial areas, reserve forests, beaches, saltpans, fishing zones, fastest growing towns with multiple civic issues and a tribal area with agrarian crisis and malnutrition deaths," said Gautam Chatterjee, secretary of Pragati.

2019 Lok Sabha elections:

Rajendra Gavit (Shiv Sena)
Baliram Jadhav (Bahujan Vikas Aghadi)

Total voters: 15,78,077
Polling day: 29 April

2018 bye-elections:
Rajendra Gavit (BJP) defeated Srinivas Vanaga (Sena)
Margin: 29,572

2014 Lok Sabha elections:
Chintaman Vanaga (BJP) defeated Baliram Jadhav (BVA)
Margin: 2,39,520

2009 Lok Sabha elections:
Baliram Jadhav (BVA) defeated Chintaman Vanaga (BJP)
Margin: 12,359

(Published 25 April 2019, 08:18 IST)

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