Updated on Apr 15, 2004 06:33 PM IST

Thane, a stronghold of Shiv Sena, could witness a tough fight due to strong candidates fielded by NCP-Cong alliance.

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HT Image
PTI | ByPress Trust of India, Thane

Thane parliamentary constituency, which has almost become a traditional seat for the Shiv Sena, could witness a tough fight due to the strong candidate fielded by NCP-Congress alliance in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Historically, since 1977, the seat has always been a bastion of rightwing, be it under the Janata party, BJP or Sena except in 1984 when Congress candidate Shantaram Golap won the seat.

At the outset, in the 2004 elections, the chances of Shiv Sena candidate Prakash Paranjpe looked brighter. However, Vasant Dawkhare, Congress-NCP combine candidate, with a formidable ground level support poses a tough challenge to the saffron alliance's candidate.

The 56-year-old Paranjpe has represented Thane Lok Sabha Constitutency three times consecutively from 1996 to 2004.

In 1999, Paranjpe won by a margin of 99683 votes (43.2 per cent) over his nearest rival Nakul Patil of Congress who had secured 32.2 per cent of votes, while Prabhakar Hegade of NCP had 19.6 per cent votes.

The then Shiv Sena leader Andand Dighe's clout was instrumental in Paranjpe's win, political analysts said.

In the 2004 elections, there are 11 candidates contesting from this constituency out of the 16 candidates who filed their nominations. Prominent among them besides Dhawkare and Paranjpe are Ramnayan Yadav of Samajwadi Party and Sambhaji Pawar of Bahujan Samaj Party.

Going by the assembly constituencies strength, the Congress-NCP combine seems to have an upper hand. And the synergy of NCP and Congress workers could increase prospects for the victory of their candidate.

There are six assembly constituencies for the Thane Lok Sabha constituency---Thane, Belapur, Ulhasnagar, Ambernath, Kalyan and Murbad.

Interestingly, for the first time a 'bootpolish wallah' of Kalyan station Ram Singh Ukhaji Siras has filed his nomination as an independent candidate for the constituency.

Yadav is banking on support from his community and friends to give the semblance of a fight.

Dawkhare was all along a Congress leader till Pawar formed NCP in 1999. He was born in November 1949, Dawkhare, hailed from Pune district and is currently the Deputy Chairman of State legislative council.

His close relations with Thackeray family and large friend circle of Shiv Sainiks in Thane may give him a chance for clear winning margin.

He started his political career as a TMC councillor, was Congress candidate in 1986 and within a year's time became the Mayor of Thane.

He also enjoys good rapport from people across the party line.

Meanwhile, Paranjpe had fruitfully used his MP funds for upliftment of rural and underdeveloped areas in the Constituency from 1996 to 2004. He was responsible for making several facilities for the railway commuters.

Since the Dighe factor is not very strong this time, the Shiv Sena may not be in a strong position and besides, there seemed a faction among Sena who may likely support the NCP candidate Dawkhare.

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