Lok Sabha elections 2019: Warring cousins from both sides of a murder battle it out in Osmanabad
The Marathwada constituency will most likely see a straight contest between Shiv Sena’s Omraje Nimbalkar and Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) Rana Jagjitsinh Patil in a multi-layered electoral battle.Updated: Apr 12, 2019 02:37 IST
In the drought-prone district of Osmanabad in Marathwada, the sons of a murder victim and an accused, who are also cousins, get ready to slug it out for the second time.
The Marathwada constituency will most likely see a straight contest between Shiv Sena’s Omraje Nimbalkar and Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) Rana Jagjitsinh Patil in a multi-layered electoral battle.
In 2006, Omraje’s father, Pawanraje Nimbalkar, was murdered allegedly over a political dispute. One of the main accused is his cousin and former state minister, Padmasinh Patil, Rana’s father. The hearing in the case is still going on in a special CBI court, with a verdict expected in the next few months. In 2009, Omraje beat Rana to get elected to the state Assembly.
On to 2019, ahead of Osmanabad’s voting day on April 18 (phase 2), Sena has fielded former MLA, Omraje, by dropping sitting MP Ravindra Gaikwad, considering the resentment against him in the constituency.
When they were on good terms, Pawanraje and Padmasinh, controlled the district central cooperative bank, Terna Trust, Terna Sugar Factory and other cooperative institutions. Pawanraje was perceived to be the poll and financial manager of Padmasinh, who was a prominent personality in state politics then. Pawanraje’s political ambitions and alleged cases of corruption in the early 2000s created the first cracks in the cousins’ relationship. Significantly, Padmasinh was a close associate of NCP chief Sharad Pawar and was a minister in successive Congress-NCP governments in Maharashtra till he became an MP in 2009.
Now, the whole background has been revived in the campaigns of both sides.
“The NCP printed a cartoon about two weeks ago, calling Omraje a scrap dealer, blaming his family for the closure of the Terna sugar factory and its machinery being sold as scrap. When Rana talks about the corruption allegations against Nimbalkars, his opponent speaks about his father’s murder,” said a Congress leader from the district.
The Sena’s campaign is spearheaded by party legislator Tanaji Sawant who is believed to be instrumental in getting the ticket for Omraje. The party may have to face the wrath of the supporters of the sitting MP Gaikwad for dropping him. Gaikwad—who courted controversy for assaulting an Air India staffer — had openly expressed his discontent and is not participating in the campaign wholeheartedly.
“Four decades of Padmasinh Patil’s rule has been of empty promises. He could not even get the funds for the Bhima-Krishna stabilisation project, which could ensure 21 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) water to Marathwada. The Fadnavis government has pushed the project, which is expected to be completed soon,” said Makrandraje Nimbalkar, municipal council president of Osmanabad and Sena leader.
Rana said, “The Sena candidate has been levelling false allegation against me and my family. I have never resorted to a personal attack despite attempts by him to malign my image.”
Meanwhile, the local Congress unit is not supporting the NCP candidate despite being in the alliance. The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) has fielded its candidate posing a threat of dividing Muslim and Dalit votes.
“Unfortunately, the campaign is revolving around non-developmental issues. The district has not seen any development in the past few decades, be it industrial, irrigation projects or railway connectivity. But the candidates are more interested in personal attacks. Osmanabad has been identified as the most ideal place for solar power generation, but the leadership has failed to capitalise on it,” said Motichand Bedmutha, a political analyst from the district.