Marathwada: Worst-ever drought may tilt poll scales

The main issue in Maharashtra this election season is drought - particularly in Beed, Osmanabad and Latur. The Marathwada region in 2018 and the first three months of this year, has seen over 1,300 farmer suicides.

The worst-ever drought of the century and severe farm distress in Maharashtra's Marathwada region could well tilt the political scales.

The main issue in Maharashtra this election season is drought - particularly in Beed, Osmanabad and Latur. The Marathwada region in 2018 and the first three months of this year, has seen over 1,300 farmer suicides.
 
In 2016, taps in Latur, the hometown of the Deshmukhs, went dry and water had to be supplied through Jaldoot train.
 
Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist and former chief minister Ashok Chavan, who is the state Congress president, his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) counterpart Raosaheb Patil-Danve are among the prominent in the race.
 
The polls will, however, will miss Marathwada's two stalwarts - Vilasrao Deshmukh and Gopinath Munde.
 
The contest in Beed constituency is going to be interesting. The latter's daughter Dr Pritam Munde won the 2014 bye-election in Beed from BJP, defeating Congress candidate Ashok Patil by a margin of 6,96,321 votes - the highest in India's electoral history. She will be re-contesting from Beed. Meanwhile, the National Congress Party (NCP) has fielded Bajrang Sonawane from Beed.
 
The political rivalry between late Munde's elder daughter Pankaja Munde, who is a minister in the Devendra Fadnavis-led government and his nephew, NCP's Dhananjay Munde, the leader of opposition in Maharashtra legislative council, is well-known in political circles. A war-of-words between the Munde cousins has already begun.
 
For Congress, the region is important. The only two Congress Members of Parliament (MPs) from Maharashtra are from Marathwada - Ashok Chavan from Nanded and Rajiv Satav from Hingoli.
 
Satav had backed out as he is AICC general secretary in-charge of Gujarat and he preferred handling that alone. Instead, the Congress gave the ticket to Subhash Wankhede to contest from Hingoli to take on Shiv Sena's Hemant Patil.
 
In Nanded, sitting MP Ashok Chavan, who was the chief minister of Maharashtra for a brief period of time, will take on Pratap Chikhalikar of BJP.
 
Jalna is another interesting seat where sitting MP Raosaheb Danve of BJP will face Vilas Autade of Congress. The run-up to the polls was tense as four-time MLA and state minister Arjun Khotkar of Shiv Sena wanted to contest. However, the issue was sorted out by Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.
 
In Osmanabad, cousins Rana Jagjitsinh Patil of NCP will take on Sena nominee Omraje Nimbalkar. Jagjitsinh's father and former minister Dr Padmasinh Patil was arrested by CBI for the alleged murder of Nimbalkar's father Pawanraje Nimbalkar.
 
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PHASE 2 (18 April)
Hingoli, Nanded, Parbhani, Beed, Osmanabad, Latur (SC) 
 
PHASE 3 (23 April)
Jalna, Aurangabad 
 
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In 2014 polls, of the eight seats, BJP and Shiv Sena won three seats each and Congress won two.
 
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THE CONTESTS
 
1) Nanded: Ashok Chavan (Cong) vs Pratap Chikhallikar (BJP)
2) Aurangabad: Chandrakant Khaire (Sena) vs Subhash Zambad (Cong) vs Imtiaz Jaleel (AIMIM) 
3) Beed: Pritam Munde (BJP) vs Bajrang Sonawane (NCP)
4) Jalna: Raosaheb Patil-Danve (BJP) vs Vilas Autade (Cong)
5) Parbhani: Sanjay Bandu Jadhav (Sena)
6) Hingoli: Subhash Wankhede (Cong) vs Hemant Patil (Sena) 
7) Osmanabad: Rana Jagjitsinh Patil (NCP) vs Omraje Nimbalkar (Sena)
8) Latur (SC): Sudhakar Shringare (BJP) vs Machhlindra Kamant (Cong)
 
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DID YOU KNOW?
 
# A major part of Marathwada is not economically-developed
# The region had faced droughts as well as hailstorms in the recent past
# Marathwada is home to important places of pilgrimage of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists and Jains
# World-famous Ajanta-Ellora caves are in Marathwada
# Industrial development has been speeded up in the region
# Marathwada was once part of princely state of Hyderabad
# Marathwada has been a bastion of powerful Dalit movement
# Jayakwadi Dam, one of the largest irrigation projects, is located in the region
# Aurangabad is known as ‘City of Gates’
# Bibi-ka-Maqbara, which bears resemblance to Taj Mahal, is located in Aurangabad 

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Marathwada: Worst-ever drought may tilt poll scales

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