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|August 28, 1999||
In Nanded, it's a fight between BJP and Congress
The Nanded Lok Sabha constituency will witness a major fight between the Congress candidate and sitting MP Bhaskarrao Patil-Khadgaonkar and the BJP candidate Dhanajiro Deshmukh in the first phase of the elections to be held on September 5.
Nanded, the home town of former defence and home minister S B Chavan, and the stronghold of the Congress, will witness a seven-cornered contest this year with five other aspirants in the fray, namely Dhanaji Ghodakjkar (BSP), Amarjeet Singh Gill (PWP), Sopan Gaekwad (ABS), Gunwat Patil (Shetkari Sangathana) and Suresh Bhosikar (Ind).
The Congress has retained the seat successfully Earlier, despite fielding different candidates, except in the 1989 elections when the Janata Dal candidate Dr Venkatesh Kabde romped home defeating his nearest rival Ashok Chavan, son of S B Chavan. The Nanded Lok Sabha constituency consists of six assembly segments of Nanded, Mudhad, Billoli, Mukhed, Kandhar, and Ahmedpur. The total electorate in the constituency is 10,10,339 spread over all the assembly constituencies.
The Nationalist Congress Party led by former chief minister Sharad Pawar has not fielded its candidate in view of its electoral alliance with the Shetkari Sanghatana, as the seat has been allotted to the latter. The Sanghatana is contesting the election under the banner of 'Swatantra Bharat Paksha'. Congress candidate Patil-Khatgaonkar has represented the constituency both as an MLA and MP, and was the chairman of the Nanded District Central Cooperative Bank and the chief promoter of the Godavari Cooperative Sugar Factory. He is also attached to various social and educational institutions and hence is popular with the masses.
Khatgaonkar is expecting to retain the votes of the pro-Congress Maratha community which has emerged as a decisive factor in the previous elections. Though the Congress has been a house divided this time, Patil-Khatgaonkar is expecting these votes to come his way as no NCP candidate is in the fray and he feels that the Marathas would not vote for the Shetkari Sanghatana candidate, Gunwant Patil, who is the mass leader of farmers in the district.
Khatgaonkar also has the support of the Republican Party of India (both factions -- Ambedkar and Gavai). Dr Dhanaji Deshmukh (BJP), who failed to get elected twice despite the BJP wave earlier, is however, confident of performing well this time following his popularity as a successful doctor. Shiv Sena, the alliance partner of the BJP is supporting Deshmukh but a large number of Sena activists are unhappy over his candidature and are not participating in the election campaign.
In 1991, the seat was captured by Congress candidate Suryakanta Patil defeating Sena's D R Deshmukh. In 1996, replacing Patil, the Congress had fielded Gangadharrao Kunturkar, who once again defeated Deshmukh of the BJP. In the last election, Kunturkar was replaced by Bhaskarrao Patil-Khatgaonkar, son-in-law of S B Chavan. He retained the seat by defeating Deshmukh by an overwhelming majority of 47,547 votes.
The assembly elections in the district will, however, witness four cornered contests with the Muslim votes proving to be the deciding factor in some pockets. The district unit of NCP president Kamlakishore Kadam, former Maharashtra education minister, has been concentrating more on the assembly constituencies in the district to get the party's candidates elected rather than the parliamentary constituency.
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