His clout somewhat depleted after an embarrassing rout in municipal council polls in his home district of Sindhudurg and with several senior supporters deserting him to return to the Shiv Sena last year,Industries Minister Narayan Rane has still managed to get about a dozen Congress tickets for his supporters to contest the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election. In addition,three members of Nitesh Ranes Swabhimaan Sanghatana will contest as official Congress candidates too.
While 15 may be a far cry from the 30-odd Rane supporters who contested the 2007 municipal corporation elections in Mumbai,Congress leaders said it was only natural for the number to fall since the Congress is only contesting 169 seats in the 227-member civic body,following a seat-sharing pact with the Nationalist Congress Party.
Our work at the grassroots level cannot go unnoticed, said Nitesh Rane,adding that some Rane supporters who had lost the 2007 elections have been renominated because of their chances of winning.
The Rane supporters have been fielded in three distinct regions. One is the Chinchpokli-Parel-Dadar-Naigaum belt in central Mumbai,a former Shiv Sena stronghold where Ranes men and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have seen some success in the last corporation and Assembly elections.
With the Sena considerably weakened since 2007,Congress leaders hope Ranes men will be able to win over traditional Shiv Sena voters in this belt of now defunct textile mills.
Starting from Ward 182 (Sitladevi to Hinduja Hospital in Mahim) where former MLA Sada Sarvankars son Samadhan has been fielded and Ward 184 (Kamgar Krida Kendra to Dadar station) where MLA Kalidas Kolambkars son Prathamesh will contest,the region sees a slew of Rane supporters including Sunil More (outgoing corporator from Ward 196) who will contest from Ward 195 (Ranjeet Studio-Naigaum BDD Chawls) and Rajesh Hatle,who lost in 2007,contesting from Ward 197 (Mahatma Gandhi Colony-Bhoiwada). Meanwhile,Rane-supporter Shakuntala Mane who won from Ward 195 (Naigaum) in 2007 has not been renominated.
Among its other party candidates not owing allegiance to Rane,the Congress has stuck to Maharashtrians to contest from this region barring a few seats.
These include Pallavi Mungekar in Ward 196 (Naigaum Police Ground-BPT Hospital); Gunja Patil,daughter of district president Surekha Patil in Ward 186 and Nagesh Kadam from Ward 198,all Maharashtrians.
The other two areas where the Industries Minister has fielded his candidates are Chembur,a long-time stronghold of the Ranes,and a small pocket in the Kanjurmarg-Bhandup belt,home to several thousand Konkanis.
In Kanjurmarg,former corporator Suvarna Karanje,who lost in Kanjurmarg in 2007,has been refielded from Ward 109. Swabhimaan member Ritesh Sawant (son of Narayan Rane aide Shyam Sawant) will contest from 111.
In the Chembur-Tilak Nagar-Ghatla belt,Sunanda Lokare,sitting corporator Vithal Lokares wife,has been given a ticket from Ward 137,sitting corporator Shashikant Patil will recontest from Ward 139,former corporator Neelam Dolas who lost in 2007 will contest from Ward 146,Anil Patankar from Ward 147 and former Sena corporator who lost in 2007 Anjali Satardekar from Ward 149.