It was the highest turnout in Satara district, and much higher than in the seat in 2009. And if the signs are of anti-incumbency, many read that as against Chavan rather than against Vilas Patil-Undalkar, sitting MLA-turned-rebel. Chavan is depending largely on urban areas but the highest turnouts were from the rural areas, where Undalkar holds sway.
At the civic school polling booth near Chavan’s residence, only 54 voters out of 1,286 had turned out in the first two hours. In the second polling booth, the turnout until then was only 35 of 889; in the third, it was 13 of 541. By the end of the day, the booth had a 52 per cent voting.
In contrast, Undale village, about 20 km from Karad city and where Undalkar was born, registered a turnout of 90 per cent. Other villages recorded 80-90 per cent.
Undale sarpanch Dadasaheb Patil said: “There are 2,200 voters in Undale village. I think only a handful of votes will go to Chavan.”
The former CM had made a short visit to this area. “These villages had been (Undalkar’s) bastion. But we will get a response from here too,” Chavan’s wife Satvasheela said.
R R Patil
Maharashtra’s former home minister RR Patil’s election bid has turned into a tight squeeze following a high voter turnout in Sangli’s Tasgaon-Kawathemahankal. Patil, who has represented the constituency for over two decades, faces a challenge from former Congressman and arch-rival Ajit Ghorpade, contesting on a BJP ticket.
At 76.62 percent, the constituency witnessed a turnout over 14 points higher than in the 2009 assembly poll. While conventional logic is that a higher turnout indicates makes the incumbent’s bid for a reelection arduous, local poll analysts said the NCP leader could just about scrape through on the strength of his “individual goodwill” among voters.
As part of the BJP’s all-out effort to defeat the NCP heavyweight, Narendra Modi had campaigned in the constituency. To negate anti-incumbency against his party, the Patil camp had run a campaign projecting him as the next Maharashtra CM.
Lok Sabha member from the BJP Sanjay (Kaka) Patil, who switched over from the NCP just before the LS polls, had put in everything to ensure Patil’s defeat. The lack of BJP grassroots cadre in the constituency could boost Patil’s prospects, local analysts said.
Although she is pitted against cousin Dhananjay Munde who crossed over to the NCP a couple of years ago, nobody anticipated a tough fight for Pankaja in her own seat, one her father held before she was elected in 2009.
Dhananjay, son of Gopinath Munde’s brother Panditanna Munde, was groomed by the late union minister himself and looked after the senior Munde’s constituency for years. He boasts a large following in Parli. In spite of this, Pankaja remains confident of a win, so the turnout of 65 per cent, similar to the 2009 turnout of 65.77 might indicate little.
But Pankaja, also president of the BJP’s youth wing and a core committee member at the state level, is playing for higher stakes. BJP won only Parli out of Beed’s six assembly seats in 2009, as the remaining were clinched by the NCP.
So a sharp rise in voter turnout in Beed would have been reassuring for Pankaja’s team, as an indicator of a sharp anti-incumbency mood. The turnout in Beed’s six constituencies averaged 67 percent, marginally lower than the 68.8 turnout recorded in 2009.
While BJP could still sweep Beed’s assembly seats, alongside the assured win for Munde’s second daughter Pritam who is contesting the Lok Sabha bypoll from Beed, the turnout does not offer much certainty.
While Pankaja expects to be made a minister if the BJP forms a government in Maharashtra, she will be looking to punch above her weight if Beed’s assembly segments and the Marathwada region’s OBC votes go the BJP way.
Supporters of 55-year-old Ajit Pawar, former deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, boast that most of the contenders who “dared” to contest against him in the previous four assembly polls lost their deposits.
But, the rise by 6 percentage points in the turnout from the 2009 polls could be an ominous sign for Ajit’s record, though not a threat. He is still expected to win, but with a lower margin.
Since the late 1990s, when NCP chief Sharad Pawar turned his attention to the power corridors in the national capital, Ajit has steadily grown in stature and influence in the state and within his party. He contested his first poll in 1992 from Baramati and never looked back.
But in the last five years, the political scenario in his constituency has changed with rising anti-incumbency and allegations of corruption being levelled against Ajit, especially in irrigation projects. The desertion of the Dhangar community, once a trusted vote bank of the
Pawars, has added to Ajit’s worries. Of the 3.50 lakh voters in the constituency, about 85-90 thousand belong to the Dhangar community, who are unhappy with the NCP-Congress government for not responding favourably to the community’s demands of inclusion as an ST.
Veteran politicians, however, say that Pawar will post a comfortable win although the earlier trend of forfeiture of rivals’ deposits might not continue.
The going could be tough for Nitin Sardesai, sitting MLA of the MNS for the Mahim assembly constituency. This is a highly symbolic constituency for the Shiv Sena and the MNS, both of which consider it their crucible. The parties’ activists were seen hard at work throughout the day in the area.
Sardesai had defeated his rivals from Congress and Shiv Sena by a slim margin in 2009 when the voter turnout in the assembly constituency was relatively higher as compared to other Mumbai segments, at 50.38 percent.
This time, in a multi-cornered fight, there are more candidates in the fray to woo the largely Marathi-speaking population of the constituency, and a surge in the voter turnout could be anybody’s gain. In 2009, Sardesai had defeated Sada Sarvankar, who had at that time switched over to the Congress, by 8,926 votes. The candidate in the third position, Shiv Sena’s Adesh Bandekar, a Marathi television personality, was trailing Sarvankar by just 3,444 votes.
This time, Sarvankar is back in the Sena fold, the BJP has fielded debutant Vilas Ambekar, while Congress and NCP candidates will also pull some votes. The higher turnout could be a result of sustained activity by partymen. The Maharashtrian population came out in large numbers. Sardesai’s fate will depend on which of the Senas polled more Marathi votes.
One of the Shiv Sena’s most senior MLAs in Mumbai, Subhash Desai, had defeated his prime competitor by a comfortable margin in the previous election when the voter turnout was very similar to that on Wednesday. The Goregaon assembly constituency segment registered a turnout over 45 per cent, not far below the 47.99 per cent it had recorded in 2009. The seat has emerged as a Sena bastion, having been won by Desai for two terms on the trot already.
Desai is widely seen as a favourite in this ballot war. He had defeated arch rival NCP’s Sharad Rao in 2009 by nearly 25,000 votes. This time too, Desai’s chief competition is from the NCP, which has fielded Sharad Rao’s son Shashank Rao. To a certain extent, BJP’s Vidya Thakur could also make her presence felt.