Voters give thumbs down to Rane despite his high profile campaigning for Bandra by-polls.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Narayan Rane suffered a massive setback by losing the Bandra by-election to Shiv Sena ‘s Trupti Sawant by a margin of 19,000 votes. Despite spending lakhs of rupees for election campaigning Rane ended up on the losing side. The Bandra bye poll was crucial for Rane’s career after he was defeated in the 2014 assembly polls from Kudal constituency. Even though there was no Modi wave this time but Rane failed to cut the ice with voters. The presence of star campaigners like Priya Dutt, Krishna Hegde too didn’t help Rane’s cause. Congress had undertaken a high profile election campaign in the western suburbs by raking up issues like Church attacks, beef ban, Muslim reservation but voters remained unimpressed.
When AV spoke to Narayan Rane he said, “I was prepared for my defeat. I already had this idea in my mind, but my defeat does not mean I will stop working. I will continue working for people and interact with them. The defeat has not shaken my confidence and I will be contesting election in future.”
On the other hand, Shiv Sena has undertaken several developmental projects in Bandra. Trupti Sawant secured 52,711 votes while the Indian National Congress heavyweight Rane got 33,703 votes. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) candidate Rahbar Khan remained on third place, with 15,050 votes. She has credited her win to her late husband and the good work performed by him in the Bandra constituency. Trupti Sawant inherited the legacy of Sena’s silent performer Bala Sawant. Bala Sawant, Sena’s MLA who died of cancer, was never known for fiery speeches. He was one of the most loyal Bal Thackeray aides. He nursed his constituency well, first as a municipal corporator and then as a legislator. Bala, as he was popularly called, was an efficient legislator – available to all and sundry. Trupti worked with Bala Sawant in his office before he married her. She was known to Bala’s cadre and his voters.
Sena supporter Ramesh Solanki said, “What goes up comes down. Rane’s dream to become Congress CM has shattered completely. Now there is no place for him in Congress and the doors of BJP had closed a long time ago. I wonder where he will go now?”
It is almost one year since Congress was demolished in Maharashtra following a Modi wave. But the voter is still unwilling to forgive the party that has ruled the state forever, barring a four and half years of Sena-BJP rule. True, there was no Modi wave in the campaign. But the Congress is still the same villain. Rane had to bear the brunt of his party’s sins and he couldn’t walk with it. It will take some time for the Congress to regain the confidence of voters. Moreover, Rane is an outsider in the Bandra constituency as Congress could have fielded someone who has worked at the grassroots level.
Rane may have been a heavyweight candidate, but he was still an outsider. Voters may know Rane, but they knew Trupti Sawant better. The key feature of Bala Sawant’s victories in Bandra east has been his easy accessibility, something that Rane could not promise.
History has shown how Sainiks work with vengeance against all those who are tagged as traitors by the Thackeray family. Despite facing defeat, Sena worked relentlessly for years in Malwan, Rane’s stronghold in Konkan, before finally tasting the sweet fruits of victory.