Adding spice to Maharashtra's sugar belt
Adding spice to the Lok Sabha polls in this constituency, famous for its sugar and gur production, is the contest between the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena (SS) contenders, that is also a pointer to the convulsions that political parties and leaders undergo while attempting to protect their turf.
The NCP has fielded Dhananjay Mahadik, nephew of Congress Legislative Council Member (MLC) Mahadevrao Mahadik. The Sena candidate is Sanjay Mandlik, son of sitting Parliament Member Sadashivrao Dadoba Mandlik.
Interestingly, the senior Mahadik was initially not a member of the NCP but was working through his own platform Yuva Shakti in the district for several years.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, he was ready to contest as NCP candidates from Kolhapur. However, in the eleventh hour party president Sharad Pawar removed his name and gave the ticket to Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje. Mr Pawar also ensured that Mr Mahadik was unable to file his nomination as a rebel.
However, in a jolt to the NCP, another rebel candidate Sadashivrao Dadoba Mandlik won the seat, contesting as an independent.
Over the years, the NCP tried to bring Mr Mandlik back to the party, going to such an extent that Maharashtra Labour Minister Hasan Mushrif, an arch political rival, announced that Mr Mandlik was part of the NCP and there was only a slight delay in officially announcing his name.
However, Mr Mandlik had other plans. Having grown closer to the Congress, he wanted Kolhapur seat for the party.
But the NCP refused and Mr Mandlik once again revolted and announced that his son Sanjay Mandlik would contest as Shiv Sena candidate.
Accordingly, Sanjay, who resigned as president of Congress ruled Zilla Parishad and joined the Shiv Sena, secured the party ticket within 24 hours of his entry.
Except for the 2009 election, SS has the history of fielding candidates from outside and losing. In 1998 Vikramsing Ghatge, Chairman of Shahu Cooperative Sugar factory lost to Sadashivrao Mandlik, in 2004 SS fielded Dhananjay Mahadik, who lost again to Mandlik, in 2009 Vijay Devne lost to Mandlik.
Interestingly, except for Mr Devne, a district SS president, all the other candidates were not connected with Sena.
(Posted on 03-04-2014)