“This is my 12th election, and I have never lost. I wanted to call it quits, but because Soniaji insisted, I am contesting.” Sushilkumar Shinde projected himself as a reluctant candidate. Perhaps the Union Home Minister had seen the writing on the wall. On Friday, Shinde lost by a margin of 1.51 lakh votes to BJP’s Sharad Bansode whom he had defeated in 2009.
Solapur revelled in Shinde’s defeat as celebrations erupted across the constituency moments after the results were declared. The celebrations were more deafening in Solapur city, which has been facing severe water shortage for years now. At Rajwada Chowk, where the BJP headquarters is located, party workers smeared each other with gulal, crackers were burst and sweets distributed.
Solapur city gets water after every two days and that too at a very low pressure. The problem had become such a big issue that Municipal Commissioner had to quit after corporators raised the decibel level. The civic chief later returned, as the government stood by him. Nevertheless, angry residents of South Solapur — called Sadar Bazaar — had decided not to allow Shinde to even enter the area during electioneering. “If he comes asking for vote, I will not allow him to step inside our gate,” Varsha Kalburgi, whose family lives in a bungalow opposite Shinde’s in the area, said during campaigning. “We want water every day. Bansode should make water his priority,” said a resident. Residents were also angry as Shinde was available only once or twice a month in Solapur.
Shinde’s loss — his first in three decades — was by a massive margin. What was more shocking was the fact that the man who defeated Shinde had himself been out of Solapur for long. “It’s clear that there’s a Modi wave and anger against Shinde for his non-performance,” said Bansode, who polled 5.19 lakh votes while Shinde secured 3.68 lakh votes.
AAP candidate Lalit Babar got only 9,500 votes, while BSP’s Sanjeev Sadaphulle bagged 20,000 votes. Of the 16 candidates in fray, except Shinde all lost their deposits.
Shinde had defeated Bansode by one lakh votes in 2009. After his defeat, Bansode had gone back to film production in Bollywood. However, the BJP roped him in this time, as it could not find anyone who could take Shinde head-on. “Bansode has proved to be a giant killer,” said a BJP leader.
BJP leaders said a rally held by Modi in Solapur city where he slammed the non-performance of Shinde went down well with the people. “Modi highlighted how Shinde failed to save sick industrial units in Solapur and did nothing to generate jobs,” said a Bansode associate.
— With inputs from Ejaz Hussain Mujawar