The CPI(M) in its first list of Lok Sabha candidates released on Saturday has nominated seven-time MLA Jiva Pandu Gavit as its candidate from Dindori in Maharashtra.
The official announcement has laid to rest speculation that the CPI(M) would join hands with the Congress and NCP to fight the Lok Sabha elections in the state. Gavit will be facing off against the NCPs Dhanraj Mahale, whose candidature was announced on Friday.
The two will be pitched in a triangular fight, likely with sitting BJP MP Harishchandra Chavan. His candidature has still not been officially announced by the BJP, but there are strong indications that he would get renominated.
The CPI(M) had been keen that the Congress and NCP set aside their claim on the seat as part of their plans of forging a greater opposition alliance in the state. Of the total six legislative constituencies that are part of the Dindori Lok Sabha seat, the NCP is in control of three and was unwilling to let go of its claim on the seat.
Interestingly, the NCP has decided to nominate former Shiv Sena MLA Mahale, who joined the NCP two months ago. The move has caused much resentment in the local NCP ranks with another contender Dr Bharti Pawar, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, contemplating to quit the party.
The CPI(M), meanwhile, is hoping that with voter fatigue being high against the three-time MP Harishchandra Chavan and the BJP, the party has high chance of winning the seat, which has a substantial tribal population. The party last won a Lok Sabha seat from the state in 1991, and it has now pinned its hopes on Gavit to end this electoral drought in the state.
Gavit has emerged as one of the most hard-working and influential tribal leaders, having represented the Kalwan Surgana constituency seven times. He was the driving force behind the two Farmers’ Long March, called by the CPI(M)-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha in the state over the last one year.