It’s time for change. That’s Vinod Tawde’s message as he tours the Konkan, urging voters to pick the Shiv Sena-BJP combine.
“This government has failed on every front,” he tells a large gathering in Ratnagiri town, at the Sena-BJP combine’s first joint rally. “Industries are shutting down and moving to Gujarat, there is no more power being generated than there was 10 years ago.”
It’s a battle for every seat in the Konkan. The recent delimitation—the redrawing of constituency borders based on the latest (2001) census — has reduced the number of Assembly seats here from 18 to 12.
While some constituencies have been merged, others have been expanded or contracted.
This means a number of sitting MLAs and their parties will have to work extra hard to retain their seats, while others will have to woo voters in new area that have been merged with the existing constituencies.
“It will be like starting a new innings in these areas,” said a local Sena leader.
And Tawde’s speeches are aimed at making the candidates’ job that much easier.
“Name an issue and you have it,” Tawde says to the crowds. “Price hike, power, infrastructure…” Tawde addressed three rallies in the region on Tuesday, ending the day at 8 pm.
“The government just talks, but does not deliver,” Tawde said. “They promised pulses at subsidised rates, but that scheme never took off. It was just a public relations exercise.”
With the BJP facing rebellion from four-time sitting MLA Vinay Natu, who is contesting against Shiv Sena leader of the Opposition Ramdas Kadam in Guhagar, this seat has become an election hotspot in the Konkan as it will be a matter of prestige for both candidates.
Another challenge for the saffron combine is state Industries Minister Narayan Rane, who is looking to stage a comeback from Kudal in Sindhudurg district.
Rane is pitted against Vaibhav Naik, nephew of slain Congress leader Sridhar Naik.
Just before the code of conduct came into force, the government announced a Rs 5,000 crore package for the Konkan and Rane inaugurated various projects sanctioned under it.
Sena candidate Vaibhav Naik says, the fight is not between two political parties but between Rane “supporters and opponents”.
For Tawde, his agenda is to make sure the combine’s candidates win. “It is time to show to the government that voters are not fools,” he says.