Constituency Watch: In Focus For 2 Sadhus' Lynching, Palghar LS Seat To Witness BJP-SS (UBT) Tussle For Supremacy


(MENAFN- IANS) Palghar (Maharashtra), May 13 (IANS) Once referred to as the wild-west of Maharashtra, the Palghar (ST) Lok Sabha constituency drew widespread attention for the brutal lynching of two Sadhus (Hindu ascetics) at the height of the lockdown on April 16, 2020.

The incident gave the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a big stick to hammer the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government
led by then Maharashtra Chief Minister
Uddhav Thackeray.

The double murder, allegedly due to a case of mistaken identity, was referred to in the speeches by Prime Minister
Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister
Yogi Adityanath plus other senior leaders in their campaign rallies for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, pointing fingers at the MVA regime which collapsed in June 2022.

Earlier, the Palghar region was infamous for the malnourishment of children and the pollution issues plaguing the eco-sensitive area, and now there is opposition to the proposed Rs 76,000 crore Vadhavan Port coming up there.

Just before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, in the wake of several political circumstances, the sitting MP of (undivided) Shiv Sena and medico Ramesh Gavit made a sudden 'ghar-wapsi' to the BJP.

Earlier, he had played his cards deftly by quitting the Congress -- where he was a Minister
(1999-2014) -- to join the BJP in 2018 and was fielded for a Lok Sabha bypoll necessitated by the death of the sitting BJP MP Chintaman Vanaga.

He won the bypoll in 2018 and even repeated the feat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but after the Shiv Sena's split of June 2022, he dumped Uddhav Thackeray to join Chief Minister
Eknath Shinde.

However, Gavit's fervent hopes for a hat-trick in 2024 were dashed as the Palghar (ST) went to the BJP's quota this time, and the party had already named a former Minister
and medico Hemant V. Savara, so he (Gavit) quit and joined the BJP.

On the other side, the Shiv Sena (UBT) has fielded a prominent grassroots tribal leader, Bharti B. Kamdi to lock horns with Savara, in what is termed a fight for the supremacy of the two parties in this Gujarat-bordering district, in a four-cornered contest.

The other two important contenders are -- MLA Rajesh R. Patil of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA), led by the local strongman Hitendra Thakur, and Vijaya R. Mhatre of Prakash Ambedkar's Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi vying for the votes.

Carved out of Thane district and as a Lok Sabha seat in the 2008 delimitation exercise, Palghar (ST) was once a BVA stronghold, but it was dislodged by the BJP in 2014.

The Palghar (ST) Lok Sabha constituency comprises six Assembly seats, of which three are held by the BVA, one each by the ruling Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (SP), and the CPM.

They are -- BVA's Vasai (MLA Hitendra Thakur), Nalla Sopara (MLA Kshitij Hitendra Thakur), Boisar-ST (MLA Rajesh R. Patil); Shiv Sena's Palghar-ST (MLA Shriniwas Vanaga); NCP-SP's Vikramgad-ST (MLA Sunil Bhusara); and CPM's Dahanu-ST (MLA Vinod Nikole).

Palghar region stands on the threshold of a major development initiative with the proposed Vadhavan Port that promises to change its fortunes in the next few years.

It is also the only district in the state that will have two stations -- Boisar and Virar -- on the upcoming Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train route that is expected to give a fillip to its importance, besides a terminus in Mumbai and a station in Thane.

Polling will be held in Palghar Lok Sabha constituency on May 20.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at ...)

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IANS

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