Maha polls: Satara by-election could be a close fightUpdated: Oct 23, 2019 01:09 IST
The byelection in Satara Lok Sabha constituency, where incumbent MP Udayanraje Bhonsle is facing tough contest from Shrinivas Patil, a candidate of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), could turn out to be a close fight.
Bhonsle, a three-term MP from the constituency, defected to the BJP ahead of the Assembly elections. He contested the byelection, which was held along with the Assembly election on October 21. Local party workers say videos of NCP chief Sharad Pawar addressing a rally in Satara while it rained had an impact on the constituency, which has strong presence of NCP. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pawar held rallies in the district and of them, Pawar’s rally became a talking point for his rain-soaked address. As soon as Pawar started speaking, it began to rain and the veteran leader chose to continue addressing as the crowd stayed put. “Varun Raja (rain god in the Hindu mythology) has blessed the NCP. With his blessings, Satara district will now do magic in the upcoming polls,” the NCP chief said.
In his speech, PM Modi also attacked Pawar, saying he didn’t contest the Lok Sabha elections from Satara, as he knew the way the wind was blowing. The statement was in context with Bhonsle’s remarks, in which he had declared he won’t contest the bypolls, if Pawar contested from the NCP.
Vijay Mandke, a senior journalist from Satara, said, “Modi’s rally left an impact in the constituency, but Pawar’s rally turned the atmosphere in the NCP’s favour. People in the district still have affection for him. He also impressed people with his fighting spirit.”
NCP candidate Srinivas Patil is a two-term MP from Karad Lok Sabha constituency, which was merged with Satara constituency during the delimitation in 2008. The 78-year-old former IAS officer was also the governor of Sikkim from 2013 to 2018.
Satara is considered a bastion of NCP supremo Pawar. Four of the six Assembly seats in the Lok Sabha constituency are with the NCP and one is with the Congress, which is an alliance partner of the party (NCP). Only one, Patan, is with the Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP. Satara might be the only district, where the BJP could not win a single seat in the last Assembly elections despite a Modi wave in 2014. It is also known for descendants of Maratha King Shivaji — Udayanraje Bhonsle and his Shivendraraje Bhonsle, MLA (NCP) from Satara Assembly seat. Both are cousins and until last year were in the NCP. Now, both have joined the BJP. “After taking both the descendants, the BJP has made inroads in Assembly constituencies such as Satara (where Shivendraraje Bhonsle is a sitting MLA), Karad South, Patan and Maan, which will create trouble for the NCP candidate. The winner between the two will come with a thin margin,” said Harish Patne, journalist from a Marathi daily of the district.