Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress heavyweight Narayan Rane's gamble to enter the Assembly through a bypoll here...
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress heavyweight Narayan Rane’s gamble to enter the Assembly through a bypoll here after a defeat from his traditional seat last year has failed miserably, putting a question mark on his political career.
Political observers said Rane will have to lie low for now but it would be too early to write him off the political scene in Maharashtra, where Congress’ chips are currently down and saffron parties are on a rise as reflected in their return to power after 15 years.
Rane has suffered two poll defeats in the past six months. He lost from his native Sindhudurg district in coastal Konkan in October Assembly elections.
Today the Konkan strongman suffered defeat at the hands of Shiv Sena’s Trupti Sawant, wife of former MLA Bala Sawant whose death necessitated the bypoll from Bandra (East) here.
The observers said Shiv Sena strategically kept its election campaign low profile and concentrated on house-to- house canvassing in Bandra (East), which also houses the residence of party President Uddhav Thackeray.
“The party did nothing to provoke Rane during the electioneering. Many political analysts thought the Sena is not visible on the ground and gave Rane an edge in the contest,” the analysts said.
The by-election was seen as a Rane versus Shiv Sena battle more than a Congress versus Sena contest.
Some observers maintained that sympathy factor was also at play in the bypoll and tilted the scale in favour of the late MLA’s wife.
“The bypoll loss is definitely a huge setback. Rane will have no option but to lay low for at least a year. Unless there is some dramatic change in the political situation in Maharashtra, Rane will have to continue in hibernation,” a political analyst said.
According to another political commentator, the Shiv Sainik-turned-Congressman stood very little chance of victory. “As per political calculations, there was not even a remote possibility of him winning.”
Some watchers even questioned the 62-year-old leader’s wisdom in deciding to contest the bypoll, terming it as an act amounting to “political suicide”.Another view is that Rane, who was Sena Chief Minister for eight months in 1999, may try to enter the legislature through the Council or may take a backseat to groom his son Nitesh, who is the legislator from Kankavli in Konkan.
“He may try to enter the legislature through the Council or may take a backseat to groom his son Nitesh, who is the legislator from Kankavli,” said an observer.
A BJP leader said Congress hardly stood any chance in the bypoll as Bala Sawant was a popular grassroots Sena leader in the area and the sympathy factor also helped his wife.
“Congress had finished fourth in October Assembly polls (in Bandra-East). Sawant had trounced the BJP candidate by a margin of 15,000 votes (saffron parties had then contested separately and came together after polls).
“This time BJP was not contesting. But our votes will not go to Congress. BJP voters may not come out for voting in by-election, but those who voted cast their ballot for Shiv Sena and not Congress,” he said.
A Congress leader said Rane, who handled key portfolios in erstwhile party-led Governments, had lost sympathy of the people in general as he had been often critical of his own colleagues.