As the Assembly election turns into a free-for-all, multi-cornered contest, political heavyweights have the most at stake. With the dramatic snapping of the two main alliances, political veterans will face tough contests in their constituencies.
By the looks of it, the state’s top political brass will have to fend relatives, rebels, former colleagues and rivals to make it to the finish line.
Topping this list of those facing troubled contests is former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. Former industries minister Narayan Rane, former minister of state for home Satej Patil, former home minister RR Patil, former food and civil supplies minister Anil Deshmukh and former excise minister Ganesh Naik are all in the same boat. While, politicians from the ruling alliance have the most to lose, even senior Shiv Sena and BJP leaders, who were expected to sweep the polls, such as BJP’s Vinod Tawde and Sena’s Eknath Shinde, may no longer find the going easy.
For Chavan, who will contest from his hometown of the Karad South constituency in Satara district, it will be a four-cornered battle. And, one of his strongest contenders includes former Congressman and sitting legislator Vilas Patil Undalkar, who will contest as an independent, but has the backing of the NCP. The BJP, too, has poached former NCP leader Atul Bhosale to contest against the former CM.
In Congress campaign chief Rane’s home constituency, Kudal in Konkan, he will have to battle Sena’s Vaibhav Naik and NCP’s Pushpasen Sawant, a two-term former Congress legislator. Even Congress workers are not willing to bet on Rane’s victory this time.
Chavan’s close aide Satej Patil (son of senior Congress leader DY Patil) will also find it difficult to defend his home turf, the Kolhapur South constituency. He will have to strike down BJP candidate Amal Mahadik, former Congress Kolhapur Zilla Parishad president, son of Congress MLC and cousin of NCP MP Dhananjay Mahadik.
Former home minister RR Patil has trouble on his hands as he battles BJP candidate and former Congress MLA Ajit Ghorpade in his home constituency of Tasgaon in Sangli district. With Congress no longer an ally, Patil will find it difficult to save his seat.
In neighbouring Palus-Kadegaon, former forest minister and Congress heavyweight Patangrao Kadam will have to take on the BJP’s Prithviraj Deshmukh.
Further, excise minister Ganesh Naik will have a face-off with NCP rebel and BJP candidate Manda Mhatre in Belapur constituency, while his son Sandeep Naik will have to take on his cousin Vaibhav Naik, the BJP’s candidate, and Congress’ Ramakant Mhatre (former deputy mayor).