Tuesday 18 June 2024

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed

Politics | Lok Sabha '99

Not an easy game for Mahrashtra CM in Malwan


"I have always been fighting Narayan Rane and his Shiv Sena", says SandeshParkar, the young graduated grocer. Despite being just a sarpanch ofKankavli village panchayat, he has been now fighting the chief minister ofMaharashtra, one of the strongest seat of power in the country.

Sponsored by the Nationalist Congress Party, its president Sharad Pawar,Maharashtra's former chief minister, has put in all the possible weightbehind Parkar to defeat Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray's five month-oldfavourite for the CM's post.

Coming before the electorate for the third consecutive time - this time inhis new 'avatar' as the chief minister, Rane however realises that it isnot a cakewalk for him this time, though the Shiv Sena is claiming to winwith thumping majority. Here, he has been projected as future Maharashtra CM.

"He is fooling you. Neither the Shiv Sena will come to power nor he willcontinue as the chief minister", tells Prof. Gopal Dukhande, the Janata Dalstate secretary, to the semi-literate villagers, making inroads even in thevillages like Pendur, the Sena stronghold, to tell stories of Rane's misrule.

In fact Pendur itself is a victim of it, alleges Dukhande, an educationistand Mumbai University's senate member. Replying to a curious villager'squestion regarding around 22 acres of land of the village acquired for theengineering college in Pendur itself, he tells them how Rane showed an ITIbuilding in Kankavli as the engineering college and started admissions,when the college itself has not come up.

"But he has brought lots of developmental schemes for us", says SudeshAchrekar, a councillor of Malwan, a tiny and picturesque coastal town,listing out the schemes for a polytechnic complex, tap water, roads, atheatre, loan schemes for small mechanised fishing canoes as well as thetrawlers etc etc.

With the Kankavli taluka of the Malwan-Kankavli Assembly constituencytraditionally divided equally between the Congress and the Sena, Raneappears to be concentrating more upon Malwan, the birthplace of hisforefathers. While maintaining his hold over most of the 69 villages, hehas also managed to win over all the anti-Sena councillors in his favour.

Though the Malwan nagar parishad elected 13 out of 17 Congress-sponsoredcouncillors by defeating Sena-sponsored candidates, both the ruling andopposition groups are today standing strongly behind Rane. "He will sweepthe polls here", claims Achrekar, Sena's campaign in-charge of the coastalcity of Malwan.

"Not the workers, only these leaders have joined hands with Rane overnight.The city would keep its anti-Sena tradition even this time", says NitinWalke, the young hotelier and city's Janata Dal secretary.

He claims that all the 13 councillors changed their plan to support the NCPlast minute, probably because the chief minister has systematically trappedthem in some deal where they are involved. "They had otherwise brought evenNCP's posters and banners from Mumbai", he informs.

Besides these manipulations, the NCP along with the Janata Dal (Secular)and the RPI, is also fighting the Sena's 'shakha' network spread out in allthe villages. "We are also fighting his image and the money power he has",admits Walke.

"More than that is the muscle power he has been using", says Nandu Sawant,one-time Rane's close associate having a criminal background, who has beenfighting as the Congress (I) candidate. He has been making issue ofShridhar Naik murder case, in which both Rane and Sawant were the accused.

To make the people feel about the alleged terror spread by Rane, Sawantnow moves with an official armed escort, under the pretext that he was putbehind the bars under false charges when he contested ZP polls recently. "Ithus lost it only by 135 votes".

Parkar, Rane's main rival, however firmly believes that the chief ministercould be easily defeated if the Congress was not divided. "I would stilldefeat him, provided Sawant does not secure too many votes", admits the NCPcandidate.

Jayanand Mathkar, election agent of Madhu Dandvate for the Lok Sabha polls,however is frank enough to admit that Rane would win the seat for the thirdconsecutive time, snatching this traditionally Congress seat. But it isalso a fact that Sena's margin of 21,700 in the last Assembly polls camedown to mere 8200 in last year's Lok Sabha polls.

It is also a fact that the pro-Pawar young brigade has made the chiefminister run on his toes in his constituency from village to village andhouse to house. As the female voter is over 55 per cent here, even Rane'swife is now seen campaigning here, holding 'mahila melawas'.

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