Maharashtra politics' Mr Clean: is Prithviraj Chavan sitting pretty?

  • Dharmendra Jore, Hindustan Times, Karad
  • Updated: Oct 08, 2014 13:42 IST

Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan should credit his comfortable position in Karad South Assembly constituency to the ‘primary’ education in politics he has had under his father Anandrao and mother Premila, who held a parliamentary seat in the region for many decades.

Winning the first Assembly elections handsomely is crucial for the sole face of the Congress which, so far, sought votes in the name of the Gandhi family.

Locked in a four-way fight, Chavan has consolidated his position against a strong Congress rebel, who refused to contest as the NCP candidate, but enjoys tacit understanding with NCP’s Ajit Pawar.

Chavan does not consider the BJP and Shiv Sena’s candidates as serious threats. He is confident that his truce, albeit temporary, with local satraps will ensure his victory.

Most people claim his 44-month stint as CM has changed the rural-urban face of the constituency. “Villages get 24x7 drinking water supply, we have good roads and a housing colony for the police. We must give him and Congress five more years for developing the state further,” said Mansing Pawar, 55, a Karad resident.

Chavan’s opponent, sitting MLA Vilaskaka Patil Undalkar, claimed people want him to lead them again. “Imported people don’t work efficiently. I have made my constituency a role model for development. No leader can claim he did everything in 44 months. I’m here for 35 years even while other parties [the NCP] won all other seats,” he said.

Shiv Sena has fielded Dr Ajeenkya Patil, chairman of DY Patil Group, against Chavan. He is the son of the current Bihar governor, Dr DY Patil.

The BJP has fielded Atul Bhosale, yet another Congress rebel in the fray, who had lost in Karad North in 2009.

Plots and subplots unfold as you trace roots to a tussle between Prithviraj, 68, and Undalkar,78.

Their rivalry dates back to the times of Chavan’s parents’ regime. Congress insiders said Undalkar belongs to the clan of Congress loyalists, who did not like Yashwantrao Chavan’s move to get Anandrao, a Peasants and Workers Party’s leader, in to the Congress fold six decades ago.

In 1980, Undalkar replaced six-time MLA Yashwantrao Mohite, another PWP leader the ex-deputy PM had brought to the Congress, in Karad South. He remained undefeated mainly because of the rural base made strong through sugar cooperatives.

The tussle with Chavan intensified after the latter returned to the state as CM in 2010. Undalkar accused Chavan of sending his son to jail on charges of murder.

“Baba [Chavan’s nickname] did not really look back ever since he took over as the CM in 2010. He has ensured overall development of the constituency in mere 44 months,” said Indrajit Mohite, son of Yashwantrao Mohite, who is handling the ex-CM’s campaign.

Another factor sets Prithviraj apart is that he is not associated with business of commercialising education, sugar factories, private or cooperatives, and milk societies that are accused of exploiting the general public and farmers.

In his speeches, Chavan has chosen to ignore Undalkar. “People are fed up of inefficiency. They want change and development, and hence I’m seeking five more years from them,” he told HT.

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