Fifteen candidates are in the fray for the Nashik constituency in northern Maharashtra where NCP stalwart and PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal is contesting his maiden Lok Sabha election.
Development and corruption are the major issues in the constituency which comprises six Assembly segments of Sinnar, Nashik East, Nashik Central, Nashik West, Deolali and Igatpuri.
Even though anti-incumbency is palpable in some segments, the factor is not that strong in Nashik city as there is a perception that sitting NCP MP Sameer Bhujbal, nephew of Chhagan Bhujbal, is “accessible” and “vocal” in raising local issues.
Sameer won in 2009 by a margin of 22,000 votes over his nearest rival Hemant Godse of MNS as Shiv Sena candidate Datta Gaikwad ate into MNS’ votes.
However, things have changed now. Godse has quit MNS and is contesting on Shiv Sena ticket, whereas the Raj Thackeray-led party has fielded a greenhorn Pradeep Pawar.
AAP has fielded retired irrigation engineer Vijay Pandhare, credited for exposing an alleged irrigation scam.
The revelation by Pandhare had forced Deputy Chief Minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar to resign for a brief period in 2012.
Bhujbal, sitting MLA from Yeola constituency, has focussed his campaign on development plank.
“The NCP has brought development to Nashik in the last five years which include four-laning of Nashik-Mumbai Highway, constructing a 7-km-long flyover in the city, development of Nashik airport and boosting tourism,” a party leader claimed.
However, the contest is not going to be a smooth one for Bhujbal because MNS is currently representing three Assembly segments, while Shiv Sena and Congress hold Deolali and Igatpuri seats, respectively.
The total number of registered voters in the constituency is 15,93,505.
Polling will be held on April 24 along with 10 other seats in the final phase in Maharashtra.