The results of the Lok Sabha election, which will decide the fate of four Union ministers and two Congress stalwarts from Maharashtra, is likely to impact the political situation in the state, which will go to polls few months later. Prestige is at stake for the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena as well as the opposition Congress-NCP combine in Maharashtra, which sends 48 members to the Lok Sabha, the second highest after Uttar Pradesh’s 80.
While the BJP contested 25 Lok Sabha seats and the Shiv Sena 23 seats in Maharashtra, the Congress and the NCP fought on 25 and 19 seats respectively, leaving two seats each for their allies. Leaders of the Congress and the BJP admit that the party which gets more seats as compared to its ally, will have an upper hand in the seat adjustments in the Assembly polls. Similarly, the number of votes polled in the Assembly segments will also be the decisive factor for the renomination of sitting MLAs in the state polls.
State Congress spokesperson Ratnakar Mahajan said although the political dynamics for the state and Lok Sabha elections are different, the results of the parliamentary polls do make a notional impact on the assembly politics. “This doesn’t happen always. In 1999, after the Lok Sabha results, those who formed the government at the Centre were defeated in the state assembly polls held later that year,” he added.
“However, the party which gets maximum seats in the Lok Sabha will get a morale booster to face the Assembly elections later this year,” he said. Four Union ministers- Nitin Gadkari, Hansraj Ahir, Subhash Bhamre and Anant Gite- and two Congress veterans-Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde- were among the 867 candidates who were in the fray in the state, which went to polls in four phases in April. Gadkari is seeking re-election from Nagpur. He was pitted against Nana Patole of the Congress.
In 2014, Gadkari had defeated Congress’s Vilas Muttemwar by a margin of over two lakh votes. Patole was a BJP candidate in 2014, who had defeated NCP heavyweight Praful Patel from Bhandara-Gondiya seat. However, Patole quit the BJP and also resigned from the post to get back to his parent party- Congress. Barring a few exceptions, Nagpur has always been with the Congress despite the city being the RSS headquarters. The Nagpur seat would be the cynosure of all eyes since Gadkari is being speculated as a prospective PM probable if the BJP loses the majority, but emerge as the single largest party. However, Gadkari has time and again made it clear that he was not in the race for the top post and Narendra Modi would continue to be at the helm.
Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir is seeking re-election for the fourth term from Chandrapur. This time, he got a stiff challenge from Shiv Sena MLA Suresh Dhanorkar, who switched over to the Congress to fight the election. Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre contested from Dhule against Congress’s Kunal Patil. In Raigad, Minister of State for Heavy Industries Anant Gite is seeking re-election against NCP’s Sunil Tatkare. Gite is the only Shiv Sena minister in the Union cabinet. Former Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who was also the chief minister of the state, was pitted against Lingayat seer Jaisiddeshwar Swami of the BJP and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar.
Ashok Chavan was one of the only two Congress candidates, who had won the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. This time, he faced a challenge from Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Chikhlikar, who switched over to the BJP at the last minute to take on the former CM from Nanded seat. In Baramati, the BJP left no stone unturned to wrest the seat from NCP MP Supriya Sule, who had weathered the ‘Modi wave’ of 2014 to retain the family pocket borough. Sule’s main challenger this time was BJP candidate Kanchan Kul, wife of Rashtriya Samaj Paksh (RSP) MLA Rahul Kul. In Maval, Parth Pawar, son of NCP leader Ajit Pawar is making his political debut.
Parth was pitted against sitting Shiv Sena MP Srirang Barne. In Shirur, noted actor Amol Kolhe, who shot into fame with his portrayals of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Sambhaji in two different television serials, was pitted against sitting Shiv Sena MP Shivaji Adhalrao Patil. Ahmednagar is important for the BJP as well as the NCP. NCP chief Sharad Pawar had refused to part with the seat to Congress since Sujay Vikhe Patil, son of senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, wanted to contest. Sujay had joined the BJP ahead of the polls, which fielded him from the seat. Local MLA Sangram Jagtap was NCP’s choice for the contest.
After the election, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil resigned from his post of the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly. The Congress is expected to take action against him before the monsoon session of the state Legislature begins on June 17. Now, it remains to be seen if the Congress, which has 42 MLAs, will retain the Leader of Opposition post or the NCP will get it when the Legislature commences. The NCP had 41 MLAs, out of whom Hanumant Dolas, MLA from Malshiras in Solapur district passed away recently. Even though Congress MLAs Kalidas Kolambkar, Nitesh Rane, Abdul Sattar are rebels, they are technically members of the assembly elected on Congress ticket.
Out of the six Lok Sabha seats in Mumbai, all eyes will be on whether Congress heavyweights Milind Deora and Priya Dutt, who could not win the 2014 polls, can reclaim their bastions of Mumbai South and Mumbai North Central parliamentary seats respectively. Another interesting factor would be to watch the performance of actor Urmila Matondkar, who gave a good fight to BJP’s Gopal Shetty in Mumbai North. Sanjay Nirupam had lost the seat in 2014 by a margin of 4.40 lakh votes.