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Maharashtra's political biggies face voters today

By Makarand Gadgil
April 23, 2009 15:33 IST
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The biggest chunk of Lok Sabha constituencies from Maharashtra -- 25 out of the total 48 -- will go to the polls on Thursday. It will decide the fate of some of the state's best known political faces. These include Nationalist Congress Party president and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who is contesting from Madha in Solapur district, leaving his pocket-borough Baramati to daughter Supriya Sule.

This poll phase will cover areas from Beed in central Maharashtra, Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri in the coastal Konkan region and Nandurbar in northern Maharashtra to Sangli in southern Maharashtra.

Apart from the Pawar father-daughter duo, other prominent faces in the second phase include Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Gopinath Munde, who is attempting to enter Lok Sabha for the first time, Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde from Solapur, Union Minister for Minority Affairs A R Antulay, maverick Revolutionary Party of India leader Ramdas Athavale from Shirdi in Ahmadnagar and Congress' high- profile MP Suresh Kalmadi from Pune.

Besides Pawar, other prominent leaders who are trying to promote the second generation of their families in politics include Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Industry Minister Narayan Rane.

Bhujbal's nephew Sameer is contesting election from Nashik in northern Maharashtra. He is taking on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena candidate Hemant Godse. Here, MNS senses a slender chance of opening its account and making entry into legislative politics.

The Bahujan Samaj Party is also trying to replicate its formula of social engineering in the Nashik constituency by fielding a Brahmin candidate, Mahant Sudhir Das who is the chief priest of Nashik's famous Kalaram temple. Another seat where the BSP has fielded a Brahmin candidate is Pune, which also has a large population of Brahmins.

However, the BSP's social engineering formula is not likely to make much impact in Maharashtra as it has still not managed to create a loyal vote bank among the Dalits and upper castes in Maharashtra.

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Makarand Gadgil
Source: source

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