Fierce contest on cards as Sena factions lock horns 


In Yavatmal-Washim constituency, it is also a fight between Kunbi and Deshmukh communities, which both play a crucial role in local politics….reports Asian Lite News

The Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena faces an acid test in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal-Washim Lok Sabha constituency, especially after the party dropped sitting MP Bhavana Gawali and fielded Rajashri Patil — the wife of Hemant Godse, the sitting MP from adjacent Hingoli, who also was denied a ticket.

The undivided Shiv Sena held the constituency for the last 15 years. However, after its split, it is a fight between the two factions as the Shiv Sena-UBT has nominated former minister Sanjay Deshmukh, who started his campaign almost six months ago when the Shinde faction was brainstorming over whether to renominate Gawali, who had won five successive elections since 1999, or not.

Gawali was denied the ticket, citing adverse poll survey reports and reservations from within the party and also from the BJP about her poll prospects.

It is also a fight between Kunbi and Deshmukh communities, which both play a crucial role in local politics. There are about five lakh votes of the Kunbi community. Patil belongs to the Kunbi community while Deshmukh is from the top layer of Marathas.

The Banjara community also has a sizable presence in the constituency.

The two leaders will also have to go the extra mile to win over voters from Teli, Mali, Dhangar, and Banjara communities apart from those belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes.

Patil is a successful businesswoman and runs a multi-state Godavari Urban Credit Co-op Society while Deshmukh is a two-term legislator from the Digras Assembly constituency.

The Shiv Sena is still striving to counter the opposition’s charge of “importing” the candidate as Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena has made it a contest between “a local and an outsider”. However, the Shinde-led party argues that Yavatmal is Patil’s mother’s home.

Gawali, who was upset after she was denied the ticket, has now swung into action and is campaigning for Patil. However, she faces the tough task of convincing her supporters to work with the same vigour and dedication for Patil.

Overall, there are 17 candidates in the fray.

The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s nomination was rejected while Banjara community leader Haribhau Rathod is contesting on the BSP ticket and may eat into Deshmukh’s votes.

The ‘Deshmukh-Maratha-Kunbi’ and Banjara votes in the region helped the undivided Shiv Sena-BJP alliance win the seat in the past.

Patil is approaching the voters projecting a slew of development works including the Rs 593 crore makeover of the Poharadevi temple, which is the biggest pilgrimage centre of the Banjara community, and also Chief Minister Shinde’s announcement to implement several measures to curb farmers’ suicides from Yavatmal district, in particular.

On his part, Deshmukh is cashing in on the “unease” in the Shiv Sena and its “tussle” with the BJP. In addition, he is seeking votes to put on a fast track a number of projects from the agriculture, engineering, and services sectors.

The Yavatmal-Washim constituency is marked by the absence of a Cotton Special Economic Zone despite being a major cotton-growing area. Besides, there is no big agri-processing unit leading to a lack of sufficient jobs for the youth and women. There has been a shortage of staff in the super speciality hospital and on top of it, the delay in the completion of the Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded railway corridor.

The BJP has dominance in the Yavatmal-Washim constituency as the party represents Washim Karanja, Ralegaon and Yavatmal assembly segments while the Shinde faction has its legislator in Digras and Ajit Pawar faction in Pusad. BJP’s proactive role is quite crucial in deciding Rajshri Patil’s fate.

During the 2019 elections, Gawli won the seat by securing 5,42,098 votes against Congress nominee Manikrao Thakre who got 4,24,159 votes.

In the 2014 elections during the Narendra Modi wave, Gawli got 4,77,905 votes against Congress candidate Shivajirao Moghe who secured 3,84,089 votes.

In all, 19,35,660 voters are eligible to exercise their votes on April 26 in the constituency.

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