The NCP which fought eight seats out of the 12 in the sugar belt could win just three this time. In the last 2004 elections, the party had captured as many as six out of nine seats it had fought, proving its domination in this politically sensitive region.
In contrast, the Congress, which gained four more seats in its state-wide tally of 17 as compared to the performance in the last polls, won all the three seats it contested in this region allotted to it in the electoral adjustment with its ally NCP, whose overall strength was reduced from nine to eight.
In Pune region, Shiv Sena jolted NCP by winning the Shirur and Maval seats where its candidates Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil, a sitting MP, and Gajanan Babar emerged victorious respectively.
The saffron alliance scored over NCP in the neighbouring Ahmednagar also where Dilip Gandhi of Bharatiya Janata Party humbled Shivaji Kardile of NCP sidelining Tukaram Gadakh, sitting MP, who subsequently rebelled against the party to fight under the BSP banner.
But the unkindest cut for Sharad Pawar came from Kolhapur where the party rebel and sitting MP Sadashiv Mandlik defeated the official NCP candidate with royal lineage Sambhaji Raje Chhatrapati in the electoral fight that had become a prestige issue for the NCP president.
Pawar had left no stone unturned to ensure defeat of Mandlik who had openly revolted against him after being denied renomination from Kolhapur. The five time MP, Mandlik stunned the NCP leadership when alleged that Pawar was blatantly practicing a use and throw policy with scant respect for honest party workers.
The NCPs Maharashtra Home minister Jayant Patil was camping in Kolhapur to work for Sambhajiraje and Pawar himself had addressed over a dozen election rallies in the constituency to marginalise Mandlik who fought as an Independent supported by Left parties. Mandlik had the last laugh when he triumphed over his royal rival, a descendant of Shivaji Maharaj, with a margin of over 40,000 votes.