“People sent me to the Assembly and Lok Sabha 11 times… Mujhe pura vishwas hai aap mujhe barahvi baar choon ke denge…(I am confident you will elect me for the 12th time…),” he says at every rally. If he is proved right, the biggest reason would be lack of strong rivals.
Although people take pride that the Union Home Minister hails from Solapur, there is not much enthusiasm. People in far off villages as well as next door neighbours say Shinde has neglected his constituency.
“He calls himself Solapur’s ‘suputra’ (worthy son of Solapur), but what has he done for development?” Mukesh Khandekar (52), an autorickshaw driver in Killeves area, says.
Across Solapur, residents complain Shinde failed to ensure basic amenities. Getting water has become a nightmare. Solapur city gets water two-three hours every two days. The situation is worse in summer. “If he comes asking for vote, I will not allow him to step inside our gate… I will tell him…maaf kara (excuse us),” says Varsha Kalburgi whose family lives in a bungalow opposite the Shindes in South Sadar Bazaar.
For the last three days, there has been no water supply. “This is the condition where the Home Minister lives,” she fumes and is joined by her mother-in-law.
Her husband Prof Pandurang Kalburgi, who teaches in a local college, says, “In this VIP area where the country’s Home Minister lives, nearly 300 people suffer daily for water. He doesn’t know what is happening under his nose…”
“Since water is available every two days, the city depends on tankers,” says Ashok Shinde, a hotel manager.
“In 2011, as many as 14 citizens died after drinking polluted water supplied through pipeline, laid 25 years back. The pipeline has ruptured leading to seepage of drainage water,” says Sharad Bansode, the BJP-Shiv Sena candidate.
Honmguri village, 20 km from Shinde’s residence, has 3,000 people. The villagers fetch drinking water from a village 5 km away. “It consumes nearly three hours and we get tired. I don’t even have energy to work on the farm,” says Ashok Waghmare, a villager.
“We have borewells…but water is salty and muddy. Sometimes villagers have no option but drink borewell water,” says Basvraj H.
In Aurad village, Sangeeta Narute says they get water every two days and barely for two hours. “For larger families, taking a bath is a luxury.”
Getting a job is a nightmare. When a college in Solapur city advertised 16 posts of peons, 30,000 youths, mostly graduates and post-graduates, applied. “We hear such stories. That is why I decided to appear for competitive exam,” says Mustafa Shaikh, (20) in Killeves.
Youth flock to Pune or Mumbai. “At least 500 youths from here work in big cities,” says Suresh Waghmare of Honmurgi village. Students drop out after Class 10 or Class 12.
“They work as autorickshaw drivers or labourers,” says Inamdar. “There is no merit attached to education in Solapur,” says Rafique Shaikh.
Political analysts believe Shinde will scrape through this time because the BJP-Shiv Sena candidate is not strong enough. “Though voters are not happy with Shinde, they will vote for him because some believe he being Home Minister is pride of Solapur. Muslim votes will not go to the saffron alliance.” Lalit Babar is the AAP candidate.