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Fighting for Marathwada’s eight seats, an ex-Congress CM, BJP state chief

Latur is witnessing a battle between state minister Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar and Cong MLA Amit Deshmukh, former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh’s son

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai |
Updated: April 14, 2019 1:27:29 am
Marathwada's agrarian crisis, BJP's nationalism campaign State Congress chief Ashok Chavan at a rally in Nanded. The party is underlining that drought is the issue. (Express photo by Amit Chakravarty)

SWEPT away by the Modi wave in 2014, the Congress in Maharashtra sent only two MPs to the Lok Sabha, both from Marathwada. Five years later, while the BJP is working overtime to dislodge Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan from Nanded, the other winning Congress MP from 2014, Rajeev Satav from Hingoli, is not in the fray this time.

Chavan has led the Congress to other victories after 2014 — three Assembly seats in Nanded in November 2014, then a huge win in the Nanded-Waghela Municipal Corporation in 2017, where the party grew from 41 corporators to 73 corporators out of 81. Click here more election news

If Chavan is facing an aggressive BJP campaign, the BJP’s Maharashtra president Raosaheb Danve is fighting a prestige battle in Jalna from where he is seeking a fifth term. A rebellion against him by a Sena MLA was quelled earlier, but Danve reportedly faced some embarrassment recently when crowds gathered to hear him speak suddenly began to disperse — municipal water supply in Jalna, restricted to once in 7-8 days, had just begun and some people reportedly hurried home to fill up storage tanks. Water supply, jobs and farm distress are the issues here. Danve once again faces Congress’s Vilas Autade, whom he defeated by over 2 lakh votes in 2014.

Read | Beyond Marathwada’s agrarian crisis, BJP’s nationalism campaign finds resonance with farmers

In Parbhani, two-term Sena MP Sanjay ‘Bandu’ Jadhav faces serious anti-incumbency while the NCP has fielded former zila parishad president Rajesh Vitekar, a 39-year-old whose campaign is almost entirely focused on rural distress and the need for agro-business and agro-industries in the district. Parbhani, with a sizeable Muslim population, is also heavily polarised, with opponents accusing the Sena of communalising every election here, turning it into a bhagwa vs hirwa (saffron versus green) battle. Parbhani has had a Sena MP since 1989 with the exception of the 1998 election.

Latur, once a Congress bastion from where former Union home minister Shivraj Patil was elected for seven consecutive terms from 1980 onwards, is witnessing a pitched battle between the BJP and Congress, led by two political dynasties — the Nilangekars and the Deshmukhs. While state minister Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar, the district’s guardian minister and BJP leader, has backed zila parishad leader Sudhakar Shrungare, Congress MLA Amit Deshmukh, son of former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh, is leading the Congress campaign for Machhindra Kamat, who was preparing to contest the Assembly election from Udgir.

Also Read | BJP importing candidates from other parties: Ashok Chavan

The Sena will look to retain Aurangabad where veteran MP Chandrakant Khaire is seeking a fifth term. Also vying for the seat are Congress MLC Subhash Zambad and the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s candidate Imtiyaz Jaleel, a former television journalist who is a sitting MLA of the AIMIM.

In Osmanabad, the Sena dropped MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who allegedly assaulted a cabin crew member on an Air India flight in 2017. The Sena candidate is former MLA Omraje Nimbalkar, who will take on NCP MLA Ranajagjitsinh Patil, son of former Osmanabad strongman Padmasinh Patil, who is out on bail after being arrested for alleged involvement in the 2005 murder of Nimbalkar’s father, Pawanraje.

Beed, home of the late union minister Gopinath Munde, is currently represented by his daughter Pritam, who won a by-election by over 6,96,000 votes, beating PM Narendra Modi’s 2014 winning margin of 5,70,000-odd votes in Vadodara. Her chief opponent is Bajrang Sonawane of the NCP, whose campaign is being led by her cousin Dhananjay Munde, leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council.

In Hingoli, where the Congress has given a ticket to former Shiv Sena MP Subhash Wankhede, who contested on a Sena ticket in 2014 and lost by a whisker, there is some anger among Congress voters regarding sitting MP Rajeev Satav’s disinclination to contest.

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