Friday, June 14, 2024
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Maratha quota stir singes NDA in over half-dozen Marathwada seats | India News

CHHATRAPATI SAMBHAJINAGAR: Soon after the battle for Beed LS constituency ended late Wednesday, the opposition NCP (SCP) candidate Bajrang Sonawane, who defeated BJP’s Pankaja Munde — sister of sitting MP Pritam Munde — by a thin margin of 6,553 votes, headed to Antarvali Sarati village in Jalna district and met Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange at 2am.“Dada, you made me an MP,” Sonawane said touching Jarange’s feet.
The Maratha reservation agitation, which has kept Maharashtra’s politicians on their toes for several months now, is believed to have played a big role in the loss of BJP-led front’s candidates in Marathwada constituencies such as Beed, Parbhani, Jalna, Nanded, Hingoli and Osmanabad. The alliance lost seven of the eight seats here. Even in western and northern Maharashtra, the agitation affected the poll results.
It was most visible in Parbhani and Beed, where the opposition fielded Maratha candidates to take on NDA’s OBC nominees.
In Jalna, the epicentre of the agitation, Union minister Raosaheb Danve, who won by a margin of over 3 lakh votes in 2019, lost this time by over one lakh votes to Congress.
In Nanded, where BJP’s RS member Ashok Chavan was heading the poll campaign for Pratap Chikhalikar, the ex-CM met with stiff resistance from quota supporters. And Vasant Chavan of Congress clinched the seat from BJP by over 59,000 votes — here Ashok Chavan had won as Congress candidate in 2014 amid a Modi wave.
Across Marathwada, Aurangabad was the only bright spot for NDA. Here, Shiv Sena candidate Sandipan Bhumare, who is believed to have a rapport with Jarange, won by over 1.3 lakh votes.
In western Maharashtra, Maratha voters shifted from BJP to MVA in Solapur and Madha after backing the saffron party’s candidates in the last two general elections.
In Solapur, Congress candidate and winner Praniti Shinde — her father ex-Union minister Sushil Kumar Shinde lost here by over 1.5 lakh votes in 2019 — gained in rural Solapur mainly because of the consolidation of Maratha votes. Jarange had held public meetings in Solapur. It was the same in Madha where Dhairyasheel Mohite Patil of NCP (SCP) gained.
The Maratha agitation, however, had no effect in Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Hatkanangle seats.
In north Maharashtra, Nana Bachhav, a member of the Sakal Maratha Samaj Nashik, said: “All the sitting members, especially those of BJP, have been defeated and the community has supported others. We were told that we would get the reservation under the OBC category. But state govt failed to enact any law.” Bachhav said the defeat of the sitting MPs in Nashik and Ahmednagar was an example of how the Jarange factor played out.
While Jarange played down Sonawane’s visit, saying “different politicians meet me”, he warned: “We will not remain silent till we get our reservation. We will fight in all 288 assembly seats in the upcoming state elections by teaming up with people from other castes.”