here may be a year to go for the next general elections, but Maharashtra is witnessing its first poll battle between saffron allies Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Palghar. A total of seven candidates, including nominees of the Shiv Sena, BJP, and Congress are left in the fray for the May 28 by-poll to the Palghar Lok Sabha constituency. The seven candidates left in the fray are Srinivas Wanga (Shiv Sena), Rajendra Gavit (BJP), Damoo Shingada (Congress), Baliram Jadhav (Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi), Kiran Gahala (CPI-M), Shankar Badade (Marxist Leninist Party of India) and Sandeep Jadhav (Independent).
Rajendra Gavit is a former Congress leader who has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Just because he joined BJP, his name has been recommended for the seat of Palghar Lok Sabha by-poll on the BJP ticket. On May 3, two sons of late Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Palghar, Chintaman Wanga joined Shiv Sena. Srinivas Wanga and Praful Wanga along with their mother Jayashree joined hands with Sena. Chintaman Wanga was elected from Palghar on a BJP ticket in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Wanga had passed away on January 30 earlier this year. Following his death, the Election Commission had announced a by-poll for the Lok Sabha constituency of Palghar, to be held on May 28. His son Srinivas Wanga later joined the Shiv Sena, which fielded him from the Scheduled Tribe-reserved seat. Shingada and Jadhav are former MPs. Though there are seven candidates, the main fight is likely to be between Wanga and Gavit.
However, votes pulled by Jadhav and Shingada will also be crucial in determining the outcome of the by-poll. Sena fielded Srinivas Wanga, the son of former BJP MP Chintaman Wanga, who has sympathy votes and also the family has its own reputation too. This is the first time Shiv Sena has fielded a candidate for a seat held by its ally — an indication of the widening rift between the governing allies.
Irked by Sena’s move, BJP poached from Congress and admitted its former minister Rajendra Gavit, who had contested the 2014 elections against the late Wanga to its fold and lost it.
The Congress has fielded former MP Damoo Shingada, while the Vasai legislator Hitendra Thakur-led Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi (BVA) has its candidate. BVA holds three of six assembly segments in Palghar. The Congress, faced with a last-minute rebellion, gave the candidature to their former MP from the area, Damoo Shingada. The irony is that BJP alone could not get its own candidate and needed to import one from other parties. BJP has always given chance to party hopers than its grassroot level leaders. Moreover, he is considered as an ‘outsider’ in Palghar. Gavit hails from the Bhilla community, while a majority of the tribal voters in the constituency belong to Varli and Katkari communities. The leader also is seen as an outsider as he lives in Mira Road and has no connection here. Gavit is a wealthy Congress leader, and with the support of BJP, he can manipulate the win, but this time it’s a little difficult. Sena’s candidate has a goodwill among its people — his father has done a lot of work here; so the party’s chances are very strong. The BJP, meanwhile, is vying for BVA’s support by convincing Thakur not to field his candidate. Vasai and Virar is BVA’s citadel, while the BJP and Sena dominate other parts of the constituency.
Traditionally, BVA has always supported the governing parties and is unlikely to fight the BJP when it is in need of support. Shiv Sena claimed that BJP did not bother to take care of Wanga’s family and that none of its central leaders turned up to pay last respects to the parliamentarian after his death in New Delhi in January this year. Devendra Fadnavis accused the Shiv Sena of betraying the BJP by fielding Wanga’s son for the Palghar by-poll. He had claimed that Sena knew that BJP was already planning to nominate someone from Wanga’s family for the by-election, scheduled on May 28. But Wanga’s own family is hurt by BJP’s selfish approach, the family was not attended after senior Wanga’s death, but for elections, they were approached and that is the reason the family supported Sena as they stood by them in their bad times. After Wanga’s death, nobody from BJP visited his family, and even the Chief Minister and the BJP leaders turned their back. The BJP’s office was at a distance of just five minutes from Wanga’s residence where he died in Delhi; the party’s President Amit Shah lives three minutes away. Even other BJP leaders live nearby. But, nobody went to pay him last respects. The price of Wanga’s loyalty ended with his death and his family members were left to fend for themselves and get insulted by BJP. Wanga’s earnings were ‘only his Hindutva thoughts’. However, insulting him after his death and openly saying that a party-changer like Rajendra Gavit was the heir to his legacy was like ‘betraying’ the late leader.
The BJP and Sena, a constituent of the NDA government, are locked in a straight contest in the upcoming by-poll.
Palghar Lok Sabha constituency is one of the 48 Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) constituencies of Maharashtra in the western India. This constituency was created on February 19, 2008, as a part of the implementation of the Presidential notification based on the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission of India constituted on July 12, 2002. The seat is reserved for the Scheduled Tribes. It first held elections in 2009 and its first Member of Parliament (MP) was Baliram Sukur Jadhav of Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi. As of the 2014 election, Chintaman Wanga of the Bharatiya Janata Party represented this constituency in the Lok Sabha. After the sudden demise of Wanga, Bharatiya Janata Party issued a ticket to Rajendra Gavit and Sena nominated Wanga’s son.
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