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Shetti’s battle to retain Hatkanangle tests Sena-BJP’s farmer appeal

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena alliance are determined to wrest this sugar bowl seat away from Shetti, whose SSS is now aligned with the Congress-NCP combine in the state

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 29, 2019 16:01 IST
Parth Welankar
Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Kholapur,Hatkanangle,Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana
Raju Shetti has been leading the cane growers’ agitation for the past decade, demanding a higher support price for produce(Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)

Raju Shetti, the public voice of the political farmers’ bloc in Maharashtra and the leader of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), is a two-time sitting member of Parliament in Hatkanangle. His return as MP from the west Maharashtra farmer town may be his toughest test yet.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena alliance are determined to wrest this sugar bowl seat away from Shetti, whose SSS is now aligned with the Congress-NCP combine in the state.

The Sena has nominated Dhairyasheel Mane, son of former NCP MP Nivedita Mane, as the man to take down Shetti.

Part of Kolhapur district, Hatkanangle is a rural constituency, with large number of sugarcane producers.

Shetti has been leading the cane growers’ agitation for the past decade, demanding a higher support price for produce.

In 2014, Shetti won by a margin of 1.80 lakh votes, against Congress nominee Kalappa Awhade.

Prakash Pawar, a political science professor tracking the pre-election developments, says, “One of the major reasons for Shetti to emerge victorious in previous elections was that he was part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which won the seat despite the Modi wave. However, in the upcoming elections, the situation will not be the same for Shetti.”

According to Pawar, there is growing discontent with the NCP-Congress in the sugar belt which will impact Shetti’s chances of a third term.

Shyamsunder Marda, owner of Arvind Cotsyn [India] Ltd, the largest textile mill in Hatkanangle, says, “Sena’s candidate Mane has a legacy of working in the public domain which he has inherited from his grandfather and mother. Hence, he relies on works done by his family in the past. Shetti is a self-made man and farmers consider him their messiah.”

Hatkanangle Lok Sabha constituency comprises six assembly segments - Shahuwadi, Hatkanangale, Ichalkaranji, Shirol, Islampur and Shirala.

Shetti’s friend turned foe, Sadabhau Khot, state agriculture minister, says, “He (Raju Shetti) has betrayed the people of his constituency by joining hands with the Congress-NCP. For 30 years we had fought together against them, however, his collusion with these parties has exposed him.”

Hatkanangle Lok Sabha constituency

Raju Shetti, present MP, Swabhimani Paksha

versus

Dhairyasheel Mane, Shiv Sena

2014 LS polls:

Winner: Raju Shetti, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, got 6,40,428 votes.

Nearest rival: Kallappa Awade, Congress got 4,62,618 votes.

2009 LS polls:

Winner: Raju Shetti, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, got 4,81,025 votes.

Nearest rival: Nivedita Mane, NCP got 3,85,965 votes.

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 14:41 IST