Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Once a Congress bastion, BJP sees hope in Sangli constituency
Once the stronghold of the Congress, which it never lost till 2014, the Sangli Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra poses a challenge for the party as it struggles to find a strong candidate for the 2019 polls.
The demise of senior Congress leaders Patangrao Kadam, Madan Patil, and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) member RR Patil, has also created big void for the Congress-NCP alliance. For the first time in three decades these politicians will be absent from the poll scene.
A part of Maharashtra’s sugar bowl, Sangli was a bastion of the Congress party, with the family of former chief minister Vasantdada Patil determining local politics for 35 years. This is also a place from where NCP’s state unit chief Jayant Patil hails.
The defeat of Congress candidate Pratik Patil – grandson of Vasantdada – by BJP’s Sanjaykaka Patil, by a margin of 2.40 lakh votes during the 2014 polls changed the equation.
Names of Pratik along with his sibling Vishal Patil are once again being explored for the upcoming general elections, though both are not very keen.
While a section of workers have been urging late Congressman Patangrao Kadam’s son and local legislator Vishwajeet to contest, he has informed party leadership that he is reluctant to fight the polls. “It has not even been a year since my father died. I have tried to raise issues of drought-affected areas. It is the wishes of my people that I have to fulfill as a legislator. I will not be contesting the upcoming election,” said Kadam.
Aspiring to contest the polls again, Sanjaykaka Patil, according to political observers, will be a strong candidate if BJP fields him again. Patil claimed that he has been able to provide water to many parched areas in his constituency. “When I was elected, five out of eight talukas were drought ridden.
Getting water to these areas was of utmost importance. People had to travel far to find employment as sugarcane harvesters. We have worked towards providing water to these places. I had asked for funds for five national highways and acquired it,” Patil said.
The recent civic polls for Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad Municipal Corporation has been another indicator of how the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made inroads into this region, once loyal to family of Congmen.
The BJP posted an impressive victory in the civic polls, winning 41 seats in the 78-member House and ousting the Congress from power. The defeat was a setback not just to the Congress, but to the NCP’s Jayant Patil as well.
This time, while the Congress was initially exploring the possibility of exchanging Sangli with the NCP for another seat, local leaders have got into act. Last week, they passed a resolution urging the party high command to retain the seat.
With six assembly segments, including Miraj, Sangli, PalusKadegaon, Khanpur, TasgaonKavathe Mahankal and Jat, the Sangli Lok Sabha constituency has a large Maratha population.