Post UP, Bihar by polls, BJP faces challenge in two seats in Maharashtra
While the Election Commission of India has not yet announced a schedule for these seats, wary of its losses, the BJP has started preparing ground for victory in these two seats.mumbai Updated: Mar 17, 2018 00:05 IST
After losses in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will face its next challenge in Maharashtra, with two of its Lok Sabha seats in Gondia and Palghar expected to head for bypolls.
While the Election Commission of India has not yet announced a schedule for these seats, wary of its losses, the BJP has started preparing ground for victory in these two seats.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is learnt to have held meetings with party’s legislators and office bearers in both these seats, in the last month. The party has planned an outreach programme in these constituencies to publicise the government’s schemes besides strengthening booth-level organisation.
The Gondia Lok Sabha seat was vacated when BJP MP Nana Patole quit the party to return to his parent party, the Congress last year.
The Palghar seat was vacated owing to the demise of BJP MP Chintaman Vanga in January this year.
The results to both the seats are not easy to predict. Gondia, which has been the seat of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel for long, had gone to Patole in 2014 polls. Patole is not keen on contesting the seat and neither is Patel. “I am keen on state assembly polls but the final decision will be taken by the Congress high command. Since it is a Congress seat, we will lay claim to it,” said Patole.
Patole also said he had approached the Election Commission on Friday to hold the bypolls in this constituency. “Technically, the bypolls for Gondia should have been held with the ones UP,” he added. Both the Congress and the NCP may not easily want to give up claim on the seat. The BJP will benefit if the allies squabble here but the party is still looking for a candidate for the seat.
The ruling party may zero in on Shishupal Patle, their former MP from the constituency who had defeated Patel in 2004, said a BJP leader from Vidarbha. If the Congress and the NCP contest as an alliance, the BJP may face trouble in a region considered to be its stronghold.
The verdict will also give a sense of how the ruling party is faring in rural areas, where the discontent against it seems to be on the rise. In Palghar, the dice may be more in favour of the BJP since it has the support of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) party. In the last polls, BVA’s Baliram Jadhav had defeated Vanga, even as Congress backed out of the polls last minute. The BVA, after the assembly polls, has supported the BJP and has three legislators in this seat. “We have started preparations and we are confident of winning both the seats. The BJP president may also review the preparations of the polls during his visit here in April,” said a senior BJP leader.
However, a BJP minister refuted the claim that Shah would take stock of the bypolls in Maharashtra. “Shah will be here for one day to address the rally, that’s all.”