Shinde’s summer of discontent | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

Shinde’s summer of discontent

Apr 01, 2024 08:48 AM IST

Infighting in Maharashtra over seat-sharing for 48 Lok Sabha seats. BJP's candidate selection impacting Shiv Sena. New trend of changing parties for tickets

The seat-sharing between the six allies in rival alliances in Maharashtra has led to unprecedented infighting. The winnability of a candidate has become the main criterion, given the crucial nature of the battle for 48 Lok Sabha seats.

Thane, India - November 07, 2022: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde speaks during the Konkan Festival event, at Savarkar Nagar, Wagle Estate, in Thane, Mumbai, India, on Monday, November 07, 2022. (Praful Gangurde/ HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)
Thane, India - November 07, 2022: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde speaks during the Konkan Festival event, at Savarkar Nagar, Wagle Estate, in Thane, Mumbai, India, on Monday, November 07, 2022. (Praful Gangurde/ HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)

In the ruling camp, seat-sharing and candidate selection is guided by the homework done by the BJP, which is the biggest stakeholder. Its multiple surveys have given the party feedback on which MPs could get re-elected and which party has greater chances of winning a particular constituency. The ally most affected by this homework seems to be the CM Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena.

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Shinde had sought 18 out of 48 seats but will probably have to be content with 14 to 15. He had to drop Ramtek sitting MP Krupal Tumane to make way for Congress MLA Raju Parve, and is now under pressure to sacrifice the Nashik seat, where the sitting MP, Hemant Godse, is from his party. However, Godse has strongly opposed the BJP’s suggestion to give the constituency to the NCP.

When Shinde split the Shiv Sena, five of the 18 Shiv Sena MPs chose to remain with Uddhav Thackeray. He will probably get just one or two of these five seats—Mumbai South, Thane, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Osmanabad and Parbhani. As if that was not enough, his sitting MP in Palghar, Rajendra Gavit, is keen on contesting as a BJP candidate. The tussle over seats and the discontent in his party has reached such a level that Shinde had to take compulsory rest last week on medical advice.

Change party, get ticket

An interesting new trend has emerged in this election in Maharashtra. In search of candidates who can win, parties are fielding leaders from the ranks of allies or even rival parties. Congress MLA Raju Parve quit the party, joined the Shinde Sena and the next day was fielded from Ramtek constituency. The Ajit Pawar-led NCP’s MLA Nilesh Lanke wanted to contest against his political rival, Ahmednagar MP Sujay Vikhe Patil (BJP). Since his party was a BJP ally, he had no chance of getting a ticket. So when he got an offer from the Sharad Pawar-led NCP, he quit the nephew’s party on Friday and was given candidature by the uncle’s party on Saturday.

In Shirur constituency in Pune, the Shiv Sena’s Shivajirao Adhalrao was sitting MP when he was defeated by the NCP’s Amol Kolhe in 2019. Adhalrao was hell-bent on winning back his seat. With the Ajit Pawar-led NCP joining the ruling combine, the seat went to Ajit’s party. Adhalrao then joined the NCP and is now contesting against Kolhe, who chose to stick with the senior Pawar.

The Congress’ former legislator in Wardha district, Amar Kale, met Sharad Pawar and requested him to leave the constituency for the Congress so that he could contest. Pawar refused and instead asked him to contest from his party. Left with no option, Kale joined the NCP (Sharad Pawar) and was declared a party candidate the next day.

One exception to the trend is Udayanraje Bhosale. He was advised by the BJP to join the NCP, since the party had a claim on the Satara constituency that he lost to the NCP’s Shrinivas Patil in 2019. Bhosale, however, refused to join the party and is prepared to contest as an independent if needed, since he has a personal enmity with Ajit Pawar.

Kareer wins, Saunik loses

Unlike his predecessor Manoj Saunik, chief secretary Nitin Kareer was successful in getting a three-month extension. Kareer was to retire on March 31 but will now continue in office till June end.

While the state government’s request for an extension for Saunik was turned down by the Centre, it was not sure about Kareer and had sent three names to the Election Commission of India (ECI), which is now authorised to clear transfers and appointments. The ECI turned down the suggestions and let Kareer continue.

Raut again

During the political crisis after the 2019 assembly elections, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s daily tirade against the BJP became an irritation for the latter. Later, when the Sena split, Raut trained his guns on the Shinde camp to such an extent that the Shinde-led Sena considers him a bigger enemy than Uddhav Thackeray. Now it is ally Congress’ turn. Raut’s aggression in the seat-sharing talks has not gone down well with state Congress leaders, who have conveyed this to Thackeray. Raut, meanwhile, is showing no signs of backing off. He probably believes that aggression is the best weapon—whether it is against rivals or allies.

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    Shailesh Gaikwad is political editor and heads the political bureau in Hindustan Times' Mumbai edition.In his career of over 20 years, he has covered Maharashtra politics, state government and urban governance issues.

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