In the crucial Maharashtra Assembly bypoll, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Narayan Rane today lost to ruling Shiv Sena‘s Trupti Sawant in Bandra (East), his second consecutive defeat in six months, raising questions over his fate in Congress.
NCP nominee and late R R Patil’s wife Sumantai Patil won in Tasgaon-Kavathe Mahankal Assembly constituency of Sangli district by over 1.12 lakh votes as the Sharad Pawar-led party retained the seat. No major party had put up candidate against her.
63-year-old Rane, who joined the Congress in 2005 after being expelled from Shiv Sena, has ironically tasted defeat in the constituency which is the home turf of Sena founder late Bal Thackeray and where party chief Uddhav Thackeray now resides at ‘Matoshree’.
Trupti Sawant, whose husband Bala Sawant’s death necessitated the bypoll, secured 52,711 votes, retaining the seat for Sena. Rane garnered only 33,703 votes, losing by a margin of 19,008 votes. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) candidate Rehbar Khan was a distant third with 15,050 votes.
This is the second defeat within six months for Rane, who lost last year’s Assembly polls from his home turf Kankavali in coastal Konkan region.
Shiv Sena workers celebrated the defeat of the Congress heavyweight outside his residence and ‘Matoshree’ by bursting crackers, waving saffron flags and shouting party slogans.
“I do not know what will happen to Rane’s career now but it is anybody’s guess. We were confident of Trupti Sawant’s victory. We have once again shown that there is no place for political opportunism in the country,” Sena MP Arvind Sawant told reporters here.
— ANI (@ANI_news) April 15, 2015
It was the first electoral test for the BJP-Shiv Sena combine which formed the government after contesting the polls as rivals last year. Despite strains in their ties over a host of issues, BJP and Sena projected a united front to fight the Congress.
Sena, for which the outcome is a morale booster as it came a year ahead of the crucial Mumbai municipal elections, bettered its performance over the last Assembly election by polling 11,827 more votes.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar had also campaigned actively for Rane.
For MIM, which claimed that it had turned the fight in Bandra (East) into a triangular one, the result showed a sharp decline compared to the 24,000 votes polled by its candidate in the last election.
Knives are already out for Rane as his outbursts have riled many within the party. He made adverse remarks over the AICC’s decision to appoint former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan as the MPCC president.
On former MP Sanjay Nirupam being appointed as MRCC chief, Rane had said he was not a suitable candidate for the post and had even raked the Congress leader’s ‘north Indian’ origin.
Maharashtra by-polls counting, Shiv Sena workers celebrate outside matoshri pic.twitter.com/kt206NcrZX
— ANI (@ANI_news) April 15, 2015
“Rane should leave politics for his two sons, who are already active in politics,” BJP minister Girish Mahajan said.
Rane’s one son Nilesh is a former Lok Sabha member while the other Nitesh is a Congress MLA.
Former AAP leader Anjali Damania suggested that Rane should take “political sanyas” after two consecutive defeats.
If Rane had won the bypoll, it would have given the state Congress an aggressive face to take on BJP and Shiv Sena, according to observers.
As chief minister (February-October 1999) in the Shiv Sena-BJP government and subsequently as revenue and industries minister in Congress-NCP government (2006-2014), Rane is known for his hold in administration.
Not one to mince words, Rane often landed himself in trouble with his uncharitable remarks against the Congress leadership.
In 2008, he was suspended from Congress for adverse comments against AICC leaders following their decision to make Ashok Chavan the Chief Minister to replace Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was removed following the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.
The party position is the Assembly remains unchanged as both the Sena and NCP have retained their seats in the bypolls.