Stage Set For Tough Contest Between Mahayuti & MVA In 11 Maha LS Seats As Campaigning Ends


(MENAFN- IANS) Mumbai, May 11 (IANS) The high-octane campaigning for voting in 11 Parliamentary constituencies in Maharashtra in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections concluded on Saturday with both MahaYuti and Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) brimming with confidence of emerging victorious.

The 11 constituencies which will go for polling on May 13 include Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Raver, Jalna, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar (Aurangabad), Beed, Pune, Shirur, Ahmednagar, Shirdi and Maval.

The recent controversy over Maratha and OBC reservations and caste politics dominated the major part of the campaigning narrative of both MahaYuti and MVA.

There are a total of 298 candidates in the fray in the 11 Lok Sabha seats while 2,28,01,151 voters will exercise their voting rights.

For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the polls are a crucial test to retain its supremacy in Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Raver, Jalna, Pune, Ahmednagar and Beed constituencies.

In the tribal dominated Nandurbar seat, sitting MP Heena Gavit hopes to score a hat-trick. She is locked in a direct fight with Congress nominee Goval Padvi.

In Jalgaon, the BJP has fielded former legislator Smita Wagh, replacing sitting MP Unmesh Patil, against Shiv Sena (UBT) nominee Karan Pawar.

In Raver, incumbent MP Raksha Khadse -- daughter-in-law of veteran leader Eknath Khadse who will soon rejoin BJP -- faces an acid test to win for the third time. She faces a challenge from NCP (SP) nominee, Shriram Patil -- an industrialist.

In Jalna, Union Minister Raosaheb Danve, who is expecting a win for the sixth consecutive term, is pitted against Congress' Kalyanrao Kale.

In Pune, former mayor Murlidhar Mohol is engaged in a direct fight against Congress legislator Ravindra Dhangekar while the heir of the pioneers of the cooperative movement, Sujay Vikhe Patil is locked in a fight against Covid warrior and NCP (SP) candidate Nilesh Lanke.

In Beed, the BJP dropped sitting MP Pritam Munde, who is the daughter of former union minister Gopinath Munde and fielded her sister -- Gopinath Munde's elder daughter -- Pankaja Munde against NCP (SP) candidate Bajrang Sonawane.

Further, BJP ally Shiv Sena led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has nominated state Cabinet minister Sandipan Bhumre in Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar against Shiv Sena (UBT) nominee Chandrakant Khaire and AIMIM's sitting MP Imtiaz Jaleel.

In Maval constituency, Shiv Sena MP Shrirang Barne is pitted against Shiv Sena (UBT) nominee Sanjog Waghere.

In Shirdi, there is a triangular contest as Shiv Sena's sitting MP Sadashiv Lokhande faces a tough challenge from Shiv Sena UBT candidate Bhausaheb Wakchaure and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) nominee and former Congress leader Utkarsha Rupawate.

In Shirur, the fight is being portrayed between a leader and an actor.

NCP has fielded former MP Shivajirao Adhalrao against the NCP (SP) sitting MP Amol Kolhe.

The MahaYuti, and the BJP in particular, are riding "Modi's Guarantee" and "Viksit Bharat 2047" plank, while the Maha Vikas Aghadi has run the campaign "to save Democracy and Constitution".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, taking into note Maharashtra's importance in the country's political landscape with 48 Lok Sabha seats, has addressed a series of meetings ahead of the fourth phase, urging the voters to vote for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to further push India's growth story.

PM Modi also targeted NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena (UBT) supremo Uddhav Thackeray and Congress for creating roadblocks in Maharashtra's development.

Apart from PM Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, Deputy Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also addressed poll rallies, exposing "contradictions" within the INDIA bloc.

On the other hand, the MVA, which has run the campaign seeking votes to save Democracy and Constitution, spoke about the BJP-NDA government's "anti-incumbency".

Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, party MP Rahul Gandhi and party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh and Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aditya Thackeray held a number of rallies appealing to the voters to vote for a change.

The MVA leaders highlighted the "misuse of central probe agencies" and also focused their campaign on issues including farmers' distress, unemployment and price rise.

(Sanjay Jog can be contacted at ...)

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IANS

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