Although dynastic politics took a drubbing during the Lok Sabha polls, elections in western Maharashtra’s Maratha heartland of Satara continue to be a family business.
In a majority of the region’s eight Assembly segments, the contest for the upcoming state polls would be decided by a clash between rival political dynasties rather than between rival parties.
Given the voters’ loyalty to dynasties, all parties have been liberal in giving election tickets to members of established political families.
The Shiv Sena and the BJP, which have limited presence in the region, have also adopted this strategy.
Interestingly, it was Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji’s descendent Udayanraje Bhosle, who halted Narendra Modi’s march in this belt, leading NCP to a resounding victory during the general elections. The sugar belt, which was the capital of Shivaji’s kingdom, has always been NCP’s mainstay. The NCP wrested four out of eight seats in the region during the 2009 Assembly polls, while Independents (3) and Congress (1) got the rest.
In Patan Assembly seat, the polls have been an affair between the Patankar and the Desai families for several decades. This time is no different. While the NCP has fielded sitting legislator and former public works department minister Vikramsinh Patankar’s son Satyajit, former Congress minister the late Balasaheb Desai’s son and former legislator Shambhuraj Desai is contesting on a Shiv Sena ticket for the fourth time.
Voters have remained loyal to both families even as they switched parties — Vikramsinh Patankar left Congress to join the NCP in 1999, while Desai left the Congress for the Sena in 1997. In fact, locals refer to local Shiv Sena workers as ‘Shambhusena’. Those backing the Patankars maintain that what they say matters more to them than what the NCP seniors say.
The race for Karad (North) Assembly seat is no different. It is a fight between the NCP’s Balasaheb Patil and the Congress’s Dhairyasheel Kadam. Patil, a three-time legislator, is the son former Congress heavyweight the late Pandurang Patil. Kadam too hails from a political dynasty. In 1999, Patil had contested as an Independent after being denied a ticket by the NCP, and won.
Former CM Prithviraj Chavan (Congress), who is the son of former Union minister Dajisaheb Chavan and former Congress state chief Premilakaki Chavan, will face BJP’s Atul Bhosale, who comes from the famous Mohite-Bhosle family, and seven-time legislator and Congress rebel Vilaskaka Undalkar (NCP) in Karad South.
Undalkar’s father was a renowned freedom fighter. While Undalkar, 77, has spent 35 years as a legislator, his family was in public life since much earlier. While Bhosale too has switched sides from the Congress, his supporters are confident that voters who have remained loyal to the family would remain with him.
Another Shivaji descendent, Shivendraraje Bhosale, is likely to retain the Jawali seat contesting on an NCP ticket for the second time. Two brothers with a Congress background — sitting legislator Jaykumar Gore and Shekhar — are pitted against each other in the drought prone Mann-Khatau seat. Gore had won the seat as an Independent in 2009, defeating NCP’s Sadashiv Pol. He has now bagged a Congress ticket. Shekhar, on the other hand, is contesting as an Independent.
The NCP hopes that the tussle between the two families results in Pol’s victory this time. But political pundits have predicted that Gore, who is close to Prithviraj Chavan, would retain his seat.
In Wai, sitting legislator Makarand Patil, now contesting on an NCP ticket, is considered a favourite to retain the seat. Patil had contested as an Independent in 2009. In Koregaon, senior NCP leader Shashikant Shinde is seen as a clear favourite.
The NCP, however, has a tough fight on its hands to retain the Phaltan seat where the party’s sitting legislator Deepak Chavan is up against Congress’s Ramesh Aghavane.