Voters in Beed are still waiting for their ticket to progress — a railway line that was promised to them during the Rail Budget of 1995-96.
“I have grown old waiting for the railway line to reach here, and I am sure my son and grandson will have to continue waiting for it,” says septuagenarian voter Prabhakar Washikar.
The project for a 250-km line has seen only a-20 km stretch getting completed in the past two decades, says Omprakash Varma, head of Marathwada Railway Vikas Samiti, an advocacy group. “MPs and so-called heavyweight politicians, who hail from Beed, have failed to lobby for budgetary provisions for the Ahmednagar-Beed-Parli-Vaijnath line. The cost of the proposed line through Beed has increased at least five times in two decades. The Centre had agreed to share cost with the state 50:50. The railway, if it comes, will boost industrial growth, tourism and business,” he says.
He has to tackle rebel nephew Dhanajay Munde who has joined the NCP. However, Munde has managed to get back prominent local leaders such as former MLAs Bhimrao Dhonde and Sahebrao Darekar along with Phulchand Karad into the party fold. Maratha leader Vinayak Mete, who hails from Beed, has announced a decision to join the BJP-Shiv Sena-RPI alliance, making Munde confident of victory.
In 2009, Munde had got 52 per cent of the vote and won by more than 1.4 lakh votes against his nearest rival, NCP’s Ramesh Adaskar. This time he hopes to stretch his lead past two lakh. “I will register a win with perhaps the highest margin in the country, more than Sonia Gandhi’s,” says Munde.
This time, the fight is between Munde and NCP leader and former minister Suresh Dhus, with actor-turned-AAP candidate Nandu Madhav challenging the established political equations.
“Voters and even his party workers have no faith in Munde. Voters are with the NCP,” Dhus says.
Nandu Madhav recalls the promise made by Munde in 2009 that he would come for campaigning here in 2014 only in a train. “It turned out to be another hollow promise from Munde. The work of laying down a railway line is not going to be complete even in the next 15 years, given the vested interests of established leaders,” he says.
Munde says, “During my tenure as an MP, I expedited work on the railway line. It was due to my consistent efforts that the project got a budgetary allocation of more than Rs 400 crore. Unfortunately, our party was not in power in either the Centre of the state, and attempts were made by my rivals to arrest the progress of the project.”
Beed, supplier of harvest labour to the sugarcane belt of Maharashtra, is also burdened with issues such as female foeticide and unemployment.