Bhujbal tries his luck in multi-cornered contest in Nashik LS seat
Nationalist Congress Party's heavyweight Chhagan Bhujbal, the only minister from Maharashtra who heeded the directive of party supremo Sharad Pawar to contest the general election with a view to strengthen the party in the parliament, is keeping his fingers crossed as he makes a debut on the national scene by contesting the election on April 24 from the Nashik Lok Sabha seat.
Bhujbal started his political career in 1973 as Shiv Sena corporator and remained a fierce loyalist of former party chief Bal Thackeray till December 1991. Theneafter, he joined NCP and is a staunch loyalist of Mr Pawar till date.
Giving Bhujbal tough competition are Shiv Sena's Hemant Godse, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena's Dr Pradip Pawar, Aam Aadmi Party's Vijay Pandhre and Bahujan Samaj Party's Dinker Patil, a Congress rebel.
It seems like a multi-cornered fight, however, the main fight will be between old rivals -- the Bhujbal family and Mr Godse.
During the 2009 Lok Sabha election, Godse was defeated by sitting MP Samir Bhujbal, nephew of Mr Bhujbal.
Samir Bhujbal of NCP with 6,56,853 votes had defeated his nearest rival Mr Godse, then an MNS candidate, who had received 2,16,674 votes. He was the runner-up.
In the last election, caste had played a vital role as OBCs and minorities, who constitute nearly half of the voters, had voted for Samir Bhujbal. The other votes were further divided between Mr Godse and Shiv Sena candidate Datta Gaikwad.
Upset over his defeat, Mr Godse had blamed MNS leadership and joined the Shiv Sena last year after he was assured a ticket for the LS election.
During this election, NCP, Shiv Sena and MNS candidates and their party workers, all confidently claim that they will win the Nashik Lok Sabha seat.
The Nashik LS seat comprises six Assembly segments -- Nashik East, Nashik Central, Nashik West, Deolai, Igatpuri and Sinnar.
In the October 2009 Assembly election, MNS captured three assembly seats of Nashik East, Nashik West and Nashik Central; while the Congress won Igatpuri and Sinnar assembly seats and the Shiv Sena won the lone Deolali seat.
Nashik has undergone rapid changes over the years from being known as the pilgrim city for its mention in Ramayana where Lord Rama and his consort Sita had lived in Panchavati area during their exile, to emerge as an industrial city backed by robust export-driven agricultural base which is known to produce onion, vegetables and grapes.
(Posted on 12-04-2014)