The Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane's political clout has once again put to test in the prestigious by-polls in Daryapur (Amravati dt) and Chimur (Chandrapur) Assembly constituencies in Vidarbha.
The outcome of these by-elections, which were held on Monday, will determine his power equation in the ruling Congress. The election results will be declared on December 7.
Rane loyalists, Prakash Bharsakhale and Vijay Wadettiwar, are contesting the by-elections from Daryapur and Chimur respectively amidst strong opposition from the local Congress leaders.
Rane, who has been camping in both the constituencies for the last fortnight, campaigned hard for retaining both the seats. Rane had succeeded in getting re-elected him and his four erstwhile Sena loyalists, claimed both Bharsakhale and Wadettiwar would win the elections with landslide victory.
The by-elections are necessitated after Bharsakhale and Wadettiwar had tendered their resignations as members of the legislative Assembly, after quitting the Sena and to join the Congress.
This is the fourth time when Bharsakhale is contesting while Wadettiwar is trying his luck for the second time. While Bharsakhale is facing a low profile Sena leader, Balasaheb Hingnikar, the Congress nominee from Chimur, Wadettiwar is pitted against Dr Ramesh Gajbe, a new entrant of BJP and an influential Mana community leader. Voters of Mana community are a deciding factor in this rural constituency.
Violence and untoward incidents marked the voting day when some miscreants attacked the vehicle of rebel Congress candidate, Kanchanmala Gawande near Daryapur and the Congress nominee, Wadettiwar slapped on a Dalit activist at Sindewahi this morning.
While raising the Khairlangi Dalit massacre in the state legislative council, the senior BJP member, Nitin Gadkari mentioned the Sindewahi episode and pointed out that Dalits were not safe under the ruling Congress.
On the other hand, contesting of the Congress rebel, Kanchanmala had created a flutter among the ruling camp as her husband, Kuldeep Gawande, a former chairman of Daryapur Municipality, is an influential politician in the region.
Both the by-polls are seen as an acid test for the Revenue minister Rane.
Earlier, his four erstwhile Sena loyalists won the by-polls while one Shyam Sawant from Raigarh in Konkan region, suffered a humiliating defeat. Rane needs to get both these candidates elected to strengthen his position in the Congress.
If both, Bharsakhale and Wadettiwar manage to retain their seats, Rane will get a boost in the party and his claim for the chief minister's post will be further strengthened.
According to reports reaching here on Monday evening, barring few stray incidents elections of both the by-polls were peaceful. An average 60 per cent voters turned up for voting, reports further added.
Email Pradip Maitra: pradipmaitra @hindustantimes.com