KOLHAPUR: Remarkable voter turnout was witnessed in the western Maharashtra constituencies that were either being closely fought, or had rebel/turncoat candidates in the poll fray.
Workers across the political spectrum admitted that candidates who joined other political parties ahead of the elections, contested vigorously to prove their influence. Traditional political rivalry, which normally manifests as a fierce electoral battle, was another reason for high voter turnout in rural constituencies.
Since the Lok Sabha elections, large-scale party defections have taken place in Satara and Solapur districts. The defections continued till the last date of filing of nomination papers. NCP was the worst affected, followed by Congress.
Of the eight assembly constituencies, the turncoat factor was visible in Satara, Wai and Maan. Shivendraraje Bhosale and Madan Bhosale are contesting from Satara and Wai, respectively, while Jaykumar Gore is fighting from the Maan. All three constituencies witnessed around 65 % voting. The three candidates are strong in their respective constituencies, where the opposition parties have became weak. Only the Maan is witnessing a triangular contest.
Solapur district had a similar trend with voters in constituencies like Barshi, Pandharpur and Sangola showing remarkable enthusiasm. In Barshi, NCP’s Dilip Sopal joined Sena. He was challenged by independent Rajendra Raut, who quit BJP to contest against Sopal. Barshi recorded 72 % voting.
In Pandharpur, Sudhakar Paricharak was chosen by Rayat Kranti Sanghatana at the last moment. He contested with the BJP symbol against Bharat Bhelke and independent Samadhan Autade. Bhelke left Congress for NCP while Paricharak, considered as close to Sharad Pawar, is now close to BJP. Independent Autade was in the BJP, but rebelled against Paricharak. Pandharpur recorded 74 % voting.
In Sangola, Aniket Deshmukh, grandson of veteran Ganpatrao Deshmukh, is contesting against Sena’s Shahaji Patil. Patil was with NCP. Sangola election is being fought fiercely as Deshmukh family wants to retain its bastion while Patil camp is considering it as a big political opportunity.
Shirala in Sangli recorded 77.91 % voting. This constituency is witnessing triangular fight between sitting MLA Shivajirao Naik, Sangram Mahadik, BJP rebel, and Mansing Gaikwad of NCP — all of them are considered as influential. Islampur also saw a triangular fight with NCP’s Jayant Patil, Sena’s Gaurav Naikwadi and independent Nishikant Patil. Islampur recorded 73.30 % polling.
Low turnout was seen in two constituencies of Sangli district. Sangli and Miraj constituencies have straight fights and are expected to go the BJP way. Sangli recorded 57.86 % voting while Miraj had 54.93 % voting.
Karvir in Kolhapur , which recorded state’s highest polling at 83.2 % is having a straight contest between sitting Sena MLA Chandradeep Narke and P N Patil of Congress for the third time. Presence of three strong candidates in Kagal — Hasan Mushriff of NCP, independent Samarjitsing Ghatge and Sanjay Ghatge of Sena — resulted into 81.58 % polling. Ghatge and Mushriff are considered as traditional competitors. Samarjitsing Ghatge was with BJP, but quit the party to fight as an independent.