With farmers whose crops have been destroyed by hailstorm an angry lot, NCP’s Padmasinha Patil (74), the sitting MP from Osmanabad, is pinning his hopes on rebellion in the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance to scrape through.
The former doctor, who was close confidant of Sharad Pawar when the matter was the chief minister of Maharashtra, has also redoubled efforts to pacify angry farmers across rural belt in Osmanabad.
Patil, who won the Lok Sabha seat in 2009 by a slender margin of 6,787 votes, is pitted against Sena’s Ravi Gaikwad this time. However, the Sena-BJP alliance has taken a beating as former BJP leader Subash Deshmukh’s son Rohan is contesting as an Independent candidate. The BJP has already expelled Subash Deshmukh for anti-alliance activities.
Patil, who is facing trial for the murder of his his cousin and rival Pawanraje Nimbalkar and his driver in 2006, is NCP’s lone representative in the the Marathwada region. He was arrested and sent to jail for a year in 2007-08.
The MP, though, dismisses the charge as “ baseless”. “I was being framed by political rivals.”
Unlike 2009, when the crime was the main plank, the going appears good for Patil within the NCP. Party president Sharad Pawar’s active campaign in his constituency has already given him a headstart. In the last elections, Pawar had skipped Osmanabad following public anger against Patil because of his alleged involvement in the murder.
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This time, however, the destruction of crops by rains and hailstorms is the main concern in rural areas.
Ganesh Patil, a farmer in Tuljapur Assembly segment, says, “At the moment, our main concern is to overcome the destruction caused by rains and hailstorms. Our crops have been destroyed. The debt is rising. Our concern is to ensure decent meals twice a day. But where is the relief?”
But in urban pockets of Osmanabad, which comprises six Assembly segments – Ausa, Umarga, Tuljapur, Osmanabad, Paranda and Barshi – crime and corruption are still a talking point.
Umesh Sable, a young graduate says, “I wonder how Patil got elected in 2009. The murder case was still fresh in public mind. The development too is lacking miserably in this district.”
To add to Patil’s woes, anti-graft activist Anna Hazare has chosen Osmanabad to re-open old charges of crime and corruption against him. In a letter to Pawar, Hazare wondered how he could field Patil who has in past faced charges of corruption and crime.
Hazare has been an old Patil-baiter. In 2005, Patil had to resign from the state cabinet following charges of corruption in irrigation sector. Hazare had launched a campaign against Patil. The P B Sawant Commission of Inquiry has also indicted him for corruption charges.
However, this time around, Patil is trying his best to exploit the Sena-BJP differences to its advantage.