Three seats remain stuck in the craw for Mahayuti: Here’s why | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Three seats remain stuck in the craw for Mahayuti: Here’s why

Mar 26, 2024 11:44 PM IST

Internal surveys of the BJP show even successful candidates who have won from Yavatmal, Buldhana and Amravati, may not this time around

The deadlock over the selection of candidates by Mahayuti (Grand Alliance) for the three Lok Sabha constituencies of Vidarbha —Yavatmal, Buldhana, and Amravati – continues as the partners are yet to reach any consensus. Of them, two are currently held by the Shiv Sena (Shinde) faction while the Amravati seat is with Navneet Rana, an independent with an inclination towards the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Mahayuti – an alliance of the BJP, Shiv Sena and NCP – to contest the upcoming LS polls. (HT PHOTO) PREMIUM
The Mahayuti – an alliance of the BJP, Shiv Sena and NCP – to contest the upcoming LS polls. (HT PHOTO)

The BJP is adamant about replacing the two Shinde faction incumbent MPs — Bhavna Gawli (Yavatmal) and Prataprao Jadhav (Buldhana)— while insisting the Amravati seat is left to them, thus leading to uncertainty and anxiety among the Mahayuti partners as the nomination filing process commences on March 28, with the deadline for nominations set for April 4.

In Amravati, the BJP, under the leadership of deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, supports Navneet Rana but former Union minister Anandrao Adsul, who is also a senior leader of the Shinde faction of Shiv Sena, opposes Rana's candidacy. This has caused a delay in the candidate announcement by the Mahayuti.

The Congress has already fielded its candidate, Daryapur MLA Balwant Wankhede and has already begun campaigning in the constituency.

An internal rift

Adsul asserts that Rana is unpopular among locals and even the BJP leadership in Amravati is dissatisfied with her. There are also internal disagreements within the BJP regarding the candidature of both Rana and Adsul.

The rift between Rana and Adsul is well-known in the region, with Adsul having defeated Rana in the 2014 elections but losing to her in the last Lok Sabha elections. When Adsul lost the seat in 2019, he approached the higher court, challenging the caste credential of Rana and the Bombay high court cancelled the caste certificate issued to Navneet Rana, saying it was obtained fraudulently using fabricated documents, and directed her to surrender it within six weeks.

The court also slapped a fine of 2 lakh on the MP on June 8, 2021. The HC noted that the claim of belonging to the ‘Mochi’ caste made by Navneet for obtaining the scheduled caste certificate was fraudulent and made with the intention to obtain benefits available to a candidate from such category. However, Rana challenged the high court verdict before the Supreme Court where the judgement is pending.

Adsul also pointed out that if Rana doesn’t get any relief from the Supreme Court in this regard in the coming days, it would be an embarrassment for the saffron party and hence he should be nominated for the seat, instead of the present MP.

In Yavatmal, the BJP wishes to move away from Bhavana Gawali of Shiv Sena (Shinde faction), who was under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for money laundering. The ED raided multiple locations related to Gawali in an alleged money laundering case in August 2021 — and summoned her multiple times in 2022, forcing the parliamentarian to get relief from Bombay high court. The Shinde faction is reportedly considering nominating the Maharashtra minister and the local MLA Sanjay Rathod, but Rathod is reportedly hesitant to contest the Lok Sabha elections and wishes to remain in state politics. However, the BJP is keen to get this seat as it has four MLAs, out of six, in the constituency while only the Digras assembly constituency is controlled by the Sena. Former state minister and party MLA, Madan Yerawar is interested in contesting this seat. However, five-time MP Gawali is clear that her re-nomination will mean a sixth win, and that too, with a comfortable margin. “I will get the nomination this time too and will retain the seat and make history by winning the seat in six consecutive terms,” she said.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Gawali won the seat by defeating the Congress heavyweight, Manikrao Thakre with over 117,000 votes.

Internal survey

In Buldhana, the BJP also seeks the seat, citing that it has three MLAs, out of six and proposes Shweta Mahale, a BJP MLA from Chikhali in the district, instead of the incumbent MP, Prataprao Jadhav of SS (Shinde faction). At present, the BJP controls three assembly segments out of six assembly constituencies within the Buldhana Lok Sabha seat.

Despite Jadhav's popularity in Buldhana (he has been winning the seat since 2009), the BJP emphasises the need for change based on an internal survey. According to the regional office of BJP, nominations for Gawali (Yavatmal) and Adsul (Amravati), along with Jadhav (Buldhana) by Sena (Shinde) may not secure victories this time.

"We have informed Shinde that either candidates from Buldhana and Yavatmal need to be replaced, or we should be given these two constituencies in exchange for other seats. Additionally, we have urged Shinde to retain Rana in Amravati and not insist on Adsul,” stated a senior BJP leader overseeing party affairs in the region.

However, he acknowledged that a significant section of BJP workers opposed Rana's candidacy due to her arrogant behaviour and approach towards party workers. Despite this, the BJP is considering her nomination as she has fervently advocated for Hindu causes against the Uddhav Thackeray regime.

Sunil Chokhare, a political analyst from Nagpur, believes that the delay in announcing the candidates by the Mahayuti could affect the poll prospects of the grand alliance candidates. Besides, insufficient time for candidates to campaign effectively may also prove costly for them.

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