Mumbai: The bypolls for two Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra are set to be interesting. While Palghar constituency will see a multi-corner fight, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena candidates contesting against each other along with candidates from Congress and Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA), at Bhandara-Gondia the fight will be a direct contest between BJP and the NCP candidate supported by Congress. The Sena is yet to clarify its position on the seat, but it has not fielded its candidate for the bypoll.
The elections are slated to be held on May 28 and Monday was the last day for withdrawing nominations. The bypolls are expected to make clear the position of all parties for the 2019 elections in the state.
Meanwhile, Congress candidate Vishwajeet Kadam was elected unopposed from Palus-Kadegaon assembly constituency after BJP candidate Sangram Singh Deshmukh withdrew his nomination on Monday. The bypoll was necessitated due to the death of late senior Congress leader Patangrao Kadam. Congress nominated his son Vishwajeet, who is the state president of the youth wing of the party. A few days ago, Shiv Sena has declared its support to Kadam’s son and had urged other parties to follow suit. Three independent candidates, too, withdrew their nominations, making way for Kadam to get elected unopposed.
Bypolls for the two parliamentary seats were declared following the death of Palghar BJP MP Chintaman Wanga and the resignation of BJP MP Nana Patole.
BJP faces tough competition in both Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia as its ally in the state government and at the Centre , Shiv Sena, has fielded Shrinivas Wanga, son of the late BJP MP in Palghar and at Bhandara-Gondia, both Congress and NCP have come together. This is the first time Sena has fielded its candidate for a seat held by its ally BJP since they formed the government in the state.
To counter the Sena’s move, BJP fielded Congress turncoat Rajendra Gavit, a former Palghar MLA who had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from the seat as a Congress candidate. Congress has fielded former MP Damodar Shingda while the Vasai MLA Hitendra Thakur-led BVA has fielded former MP Baliram Jadhav.
Recently, BJP had also offered to support Congress in Palghar in exchange of Congress withdrawing its candidate in Palus-Kadegaon. Congress had turned down the offer.
State revenue minister and senior BJP leader Chandrakant Patil, who declared withdrawal of nomination from the Palus-Kadegaon seat, said the decision was taken considering the tradition followed by political parties not to contest bypolls on seats that fall vacant following the demise of a senior leader. “This decision has nothing to do with bargaining with Congress for any seat,” Patil clarified.
There are 18 candidates in the fray for the Bhandara-Gondia seat that include Hemant Patle from BJP, Madhukar Kukde (NCP), LK Madavi (Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh), eight independents and seven others from small parties. Kukde is a former BJP MLA and so is Patle.
The fight assumes significance considering Patole’s rebellion against BJP and his return to Congress. Patole has extended his full support to NCP in the polls. Ahead of the polls, NCP had consulted Congress leaders, including Patole, for selecting its candidate. Of the six assembly seats that come under the parliamentary seats, five belong to BJP and one to Congress. The Sena’s decision will also play an important role in the contest.