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Palghar Bypoll: In Battle of Allies, Fadnavis' Audio Clip Adds Ammunition to Sena's Charge Against BJP

In Palghar, the bypoll was necessitated following the death of BJP's Chintaman Wanaga.

Vinaya Deshpande | CNN-News18

Updated:May 28, 2018, 11:12 AM IST
Palghar Bypoll: In Battle of Allies, Fadnavis' Audio Clip Adds Ammunition to Sena's Charge Against BJP
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Mumbai: The by-elections to Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra began this morning for which all major parties have gone all out as the outcome is likely to have a bearing on their future course.

In Palghar, the bypoll was necessitated following the death of BJP's Chintaman Wanaga. The BJP's bickering ally Shiv Sena has fielded the late MP's son Srinivas in a bid to garner the sympathy vote. The Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) is the third party in the contest.

This is the first time that national and State political allies BJP and Shiv Sena will lock horns in a Lok Sabha by-election. Shiv Sena is a part of the ruling NDA at the Centre. Also, the BJP has formed government in Maharashtra in alliance with the Shiv Sena.

The last one week saw an acrimonious and bitter political campaigning between the two parties.

The Sena has accused the BJP of distributing cash to voters. During a rally, Uddhav played an audio clip wherein Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis purportedly exhorted party cadre to win the elections "by all means possible". Claiming the audio recording to be doctored, Fadnavis rubbished Sena's allegations as "nervous steps due to fear of failure". While the Sena has complained to the Election Commission, the CM too said he had sent the whole clip to the Election Commission.

An editorial in the Sena mouthpiece Saamana today said its nominee will win the Palghar seat, despite the BJP roping in UP CM Yogi Adityanath in the poll campaign.

The Congress, on the other hand, termed the Palghar bypolls as ‘gang war’.

There are total seven candidates in the fray for the polls. Congress has fielded Damodar Shingda, BJP's candidate is Congress turncoat Rajendra Gavit. Baliram Jadhav is Bahujan Vikas Aghadi's candidate.

While the seat is reserved for an ST candidate, the BJP is banking on the changed demographic structure of the constituency. Vasai, Virar, Nalasopara have a substantial migrant North Indian population now. The BJP brought campaigners like Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, to woo them. This belt is traditionally considered to be a stronghold of BVA.

The key factor which will decide the fate of the parties is the voting percentage in the constituency. Generally, public holiday is declared in the constituency which goes to vote. But in this case, many residents of Palghar constituency, primarily from Vasai, Virar, Nalasopara, come to Mumbai for work. No public holiday has been declared in Mumbai.

Of the 2097 polling centres in Palghar, 14 have been declared sensitive. Over 4000 personnel of different security agencies have been deployed in Palghar.

As many as 18 candidates are in fray in Bhandara-Gondia.

In Bhandara-Gondia, out of 2,149 polling booths, 71 are situated in Naxal-hit areas and 113 are listed as critical.

In Bhandara-Gondia, the BJP and the NCP have locked horns in the bypoll, being held after the resignation of BJP MP Nana Patole. Patole, a leader of the powerful OBC Kunbi community, had switched side from the Congress to the BJP and was elected as an MP from the constituency in Vidarbha in 2014 by defeating former union minister and NCP heavyweight Praful Patel.

The NCP, which has allied with the Congress, has fielded former BJP MLA Madhukar Kukde, against BJP's Hemant Patle, who belongs to the Powar community and is also a former legislator.

The votes will be counted on May 31.

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