LS bypolls: battle royale in Palghar

A battle royale is on the cards in the Lok Sabha seat of Palghar near Mumbai with a five-cornered contest that could lead to a nail-biting finish. PTI file photo for representation only

A battle royale is on the cards in the Lok Sabha seat of Palghar near Mumbai with a five-cornered contest that could lead to a nail-biting finish.

The May 28 by-polls have been necessitated in Palghar (ST) seat following the death of BJP MP Chintaman Vanaga (67) after he suffered a heart attack in New Delhi on January 30 during the Budget session.

Since then the political scene has changed in Palghar because of switchovers and changing of goal posts.

The five-cornered contest involves BJP's Rajendra Gavit, Shiv Sena's Srinivas Vanaga, Congress' Damodar Shingda, Baliram Jadhav of Bahujan Vikas Agadhi (BVA) and Kiran Gahla of the CPM. One Independent and another from Marxist Leninist Party are also in the fray.

In the run-up to the polls, the BJP suffered a setback as Srinivas Vanaga joined the Shiv Sena and became the nominee for the polls.

The BJP, in a damage control exercise, roped in Congressman and former minister of state for tribal development Rajendra Gavit and gave him a ticket.

The Vivek Pandit-led Shramjeevi Sangathana, one of the prominent organisations that work with the tribals, threw its weight behind the BJP.

Incidentally, Pandit was an Independent MLA from Vasai backed by the Shiv Sena. The poll has become a sort of direct fight between Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.

The Congress, on the other hand, fielded veteran tribal leader Damu Shingda. He has been elected to the Lok Sabha from Dahanu constituency ( which is now part of the Palghar Lok Sabha seat after delimitation) in 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991 and 2004. However, Shingda was defeated in the 2009 polls by BVA's Baliram Jadhav.

The BVA has a strong presence in the Vasai taluka and has tremendous control over the Vasai-Virar City Municipal Corporation, one of the fastest growing urban centres. Both its leaders, Hitendra Thakur and his son Kshitij, are MLAs.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream bullet train project passes through this constituency and except the BJP, all political parties have been opposing the project from day one.

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LS bypolls: battle royale in Palghar

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