Ahead of the Palghar by-elections on May 28, political parties in the Maharashtra are leaving no stones unturned in cementing their chances in the polls. Post a major setback received by BJP in the Karnataka elections and after experiencing the fading Modi-wave in Gorakhpur, Phulpur, and Gujarat recently, it comes as a tough battle for the party to prove its mettle in the Palghar election.
Looking back at the history of Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-elections that was held on March 11, 2018, BJP was in power in both the states and yet they faced a defeat in Lok Sabha seats opposite Samajwadi Party. Meanwhile, in the Gujarat elections, which were held on February 15, 2018, BJP managed to retain its power, but its overall strength declined and the opposition Congress chalked up several gains.
When AV spoke to a BJP worker from Palghar, on the condition of anonymity he said, “When PM Modi called for a Congress-mukt Bharat, why does he need to give a ticket to a former Congress leader like Gavit? The upcoming Palghar election lacks integrity and it is entirely based on money floods. It is very disappointing that BJP always neglects their ground level workers and they give preference to the candidates who can flow a lot of money.”
The BJP and Sena, a constituent of the NDA government, are locked in a straight contest in the by-poll which was necessitated following the death of the sitting BJP MP Chintaman Wanga in January this year. Shiv Sena hit the headlines by allotting the ticket to Wanga’s son Srinivas for the by-election. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has accused the Shiv Sena of betraying the BJP by fielding the son of late MP Chintaman Wanga for the Palghar Lok Sabha seat by-poll.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan expressed, “BJP has hijacked our candidate as they are desperate to win. We are contesting the election with the support of NCP and we are going with our old candidate Damoo Shingada as Rajendra Gavit left our party and is contesting on BJP’s ticket. If BJP and Shiv Sena contests against each other, while NCP and Congress form an alliance, BJP will be completely demolished. The battle between BJP and Sena is temporary; they will make an alliance in future for political convenience.”
BJP got Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to campaign in a bid to woo the north Indian migrants in that area, where Adityanath and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray indulged in a bitter war of words. He invoked late Bal Thackeray, saying he never backstabbed anyone and added that “today the Shiv Sena is weakening his customs and traditions”. In continuation to that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday was not left behind in criticising Shiv Sena saying that it misuses the saffron flag of Shivaji Maharaj by indulging in demanding ransom from the people. Is BJP here trying to play the same blame game for the vote bank by influencing the voters with sympathy card?
Shiv Sena leader Arvind Sawant commented, “The previous elections setback faced by BJP will have an impact on this by-poll. The party is using the public money for their election campaign and spending crores of rupees on advertisement. BJP reveals its double standards and hypocrisy by making false promises before the elections. Shiv Sena will win as we have real concern and respect towards Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the BJP is using his name for the sake of elections.”
Political experts believe that Shiv Sena’s fielding against its ally in the state government would affect the vote bank of BJP as it will make a negative impact on the voters who fall into the trap of BJP’s propaganda. The Sena is attempting to attract BJP supporters by persuading in their manner; hence, the BJP is being more cautious for every step taken ahead before the Palghar elections.
MoS Ravindra Chavan stated, “Previous setback will not have any impact on this by-poll election because Prime Minister Narendra Modi and our government have undertaken many developmental projects in this constituency. We are confident that people will vote for our party and we will win elections with a good margin.”
With the Election Day coming closer, it is becoming a flashpoint tussle between BJP and its estranged ally. This will be the first time that the Shiv Sena will field a candidate against its ally for a Lok Sabha seat. Both the parties have braced themselves for this hard-headed fight to come in power. Time will only tell whether this ally proves to be a boon or a curse for BJP!