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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: In Kohlapur constituency, BJP-Sena show unity, fissures in opposition camp

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Be it Kohlapur Lok Sabha constituency’s sitting MP, Dhananjay Mahadik of NCP or Shiv Sena’s candidate Sanjay Mandlik , either way, Kolhapur as a constituency sets the tone for western Maharashtra. Which is why poll allies watch it closely.

constituency watch Updated: Mar 14, 2019 14:02 IST
Parth Welankar
Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Kolhapur
Lok sabha elections,Lok sabha polls,Shiv sena
Sanjay Mandlik is S hiv Sena’s candidate from the Kohlapur Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra for 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. (HT Photo)

True to its culinary reputation, Kolhapur has been a Lok Sabha seat that has given the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party some indigestion when it comes to elections.

A true test of the BJP and Shiv Sena’s unity as alliance partners outside Mumbai, Kolhapur has more often than not, offered irony as the predominant salve to soothe the saffron allies fractious relationship.

Shiv Sena, has, since 2014, chosen Kolhapur as the venue to kick-start its election campaign - parliamentary and assembly. Irony? Sitting MP from Kolhapur is from the NCP.

The BJP agreeing to ally with the Sena for the 2019 polls is well driven by the Congress-NCP pre-poll alliance, and the fact that the sitting MP in Kolhapur is the NCP’s Dhananjay Mahadik.

This time, too, the Shiv Sena and the BJP alliance will launch their Maharashtra Lok Sabha campaign from Kolhapur on March 24, meant to signify a reunion between workers of the two parties. Irony? BJP, in Maharashtra increasingly, is operating like the ‘junior’ partner - following the Sena’s lead.

As factionalism rears its ugly head for the Congress-NCP again, cue Ahmednagar, Madha and Shirur, Mahadik is currently not the candidate of choice for party workers on the ground.

Setting a precedence for a healthy alliance, BJP leader Chandrakant Patil, earlier this month, announced the party’s complete support to whoever the Sena choses to be its candidate in Kolhapur. According to the saffron alliance seat-sharing formula, Kolhapur is with the Shiv Sena.

Patil said, “There were many doubts about my role in the upcoming elections. However, I have appealed to all the people to not have any doubts in their minds, as I will be going ahead with my party’s decision. Sanjay Mandlik (Sena) is our candidate and I will campaign for him to the best of my capacity.”

While BJP-Sena is confident of winning the Kolhapur seat, which they lost in 2014 by 33,000 votes, sitting NCP MP Dhananjay Mahadik has suggested opposition parties come out of their dream world.

Mahadik said, “Sena BJP must come out of their dream world as people of Kolhapur are set to re-elect me as their MP in the upcoming elections.

“In 2014. there was a Modi wave in the country and despite that, I emerged victorious. Now in 2019, the BJP Sena is all set to be decimated, not only in Kolhapur, but in the entire western Maharashtra.”

“Also, people in my constituency are aware of the developmental works that I have done which will make them vote for me again,” he added.

What Mahadik may be ignoring, intentionally, is that the Sena-BJP “dream world” may be rooted in the current infighting between the Congress and the NCP in Kolhapur.

Satej Patil, a senior Congress leader of Kolhapur is at loggerheads with Mahadik.

“Satej Patil won’t be a problem for me as ultimately, we are alliance partners. Also, his (Patil’s) party has explicitly told him to support my candidature in the upcoming elections” claimed Mahadik. Spicy Kolhapuri politics, this.

In 2014. there was a Modi wave in the country and despite that, I emerged victorious. Now in 2019, the BJP Sena is all set to be decimated, not only in Kolhapur, but in the entire western Maharashtra.

For complete coverage of Lok Sabha Elections 2019, click here.

First Published: Mar 14, 2019 13:58 IST