Updated: April 16, 2021 9:06:16 am
Campaigning for the April 17 bypoll to the Pandharpur assembly constituency in Solapur district of Maharashtra ended on Thursday. The bypoll will witness a straight fight between the NCP and BJP.
In view of the bypoll, the state has relaxed curfew norms in the district, though guidelines as per the Election Commission office are being followed.
The NCP has fielded Bhagirath Bhalke, son of incumbent MLA Bharat Bhalke, who died of Covid-19 on November 28, 2020, thus necessitating the bypoll. Samadhan Autade is the BJP candidate.
State NCP president Jayant Patil said, “The death of Bharat Bhalke was a shock. We could have avoided the campaign if the Opposition supported his son for the seat.”
In 2009, Bharat Bhalke contested as an Independent candidate and won. In 2014, he won on a Congress ticket and made a hat-trick as an NCP candidate in 2019.
Admitting that campaigning amid Covid restrictions is a challenge, Patil said: “We have decided to hold meetings in closed auditoriums with not more than 200 people.”
At a rally on Wednesday, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar addressed a huge gathering.
NCP MP Supriya Sule, who could not attend the rally on Wednesday at Pandharpur, addressed the gathering through a video conference from outside Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai where her father and party president Sharad Pawar is admitted.
“The elections are a promise to fulfil the dreams of late Bharat Bhalke for the people of Pandharpur- Mangalweda,” Sule said.
Opposition leaders Devendra Fadnavis and state party president Chandrakant Patil held over a dozen meetings across the constituency last week.
Fadnavis at a rally said, “Don’t dismiss the bypoll. I urge our cadres to focus on the sole seat. Leave the change of guard in Maharashtra to me.”
Pawar in another rally said, “The MVA government was formed with people’s support. Nobody can dislodge the government.”
Both the ruling and the Opposition parties pledged to transform the temple town of Pandharpur with better infrastructure and civic amenities. The Opposition alleged that the state government failed to bring the pandemic under control.
Wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing have been made compulsory for voters. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.
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