KOLHAPUR: Congress, which considered Sangli as its bastion since the Independence, managed to win only one of the district’s eight seats in the last assembly elections. While the BJP had won four seats, Sena got one and NCP bagged two.
This time, Congress and NCP, as a team, are fighting to regain control over Sangli. The BJP-Sena alliance, meanwhile, is determined to increase its tally further.
In 2014, BJP had won Shirala, Jath, Miraj and Sangli seats, and it has fielded existing MLAs from these four seats. However, the party is facing rebellion in Shirala and Jath. Sena is contesting the remaining four seats — Khanapur, Islampur, Tasgaon and Palus.
Keeping an eye on the Dhangar community voters, BJP had organised Union minister Amit Shah’s rally at Jath. Shah attacked NCP and said party chief Sharad Pawar had failed to address the drought problem in the region over the past 15 years. Shah said BJP is discussing the matter with neighbouring Karnataka and will soon provide water for the drought-prone Jath region.
BJP expects this promise of water will help Vilasrao Jagtap retain the Jath seat, where Congress has fielded Vikram Sawant. However, the entry of BJP rebel Ravindra Arali in the poll fray has made the contest interesting.
In Shirala Shivajirao Naik is considered a strong BJP candidate, but the rebellion of Samrat Mahadik can affect his chances. NCP has fielded Mansing Naik here.
In Sangli city, sitting MLA Sudhir Gadgil helped BJP win in the municipal corporation and has developed a strong network. He is expected to retain the seat. Congress has pitched Prithviraj Patil against Gadgil. Sena’s rebel candidate Shekhar Mane is also in the fray as an independent.
In Miraj, BJP’s Suresh Khade is expected to retain the seat, however, Swabhimani Paksha’s Balasaheb Honmare, who has the backing of other parties, is likely to give a tough fight to Khade.
Islampur, Kadegaon-Palus and Tasgaon are three important seats that Congress and NCP hold in Sangli district. NCP state president Jayant Patil represents Islampur and Sena has fielded Gaurav Naikawadi, the grandson of freedom fighter Nagnath Naikawadi, against him. BJP’s rebel Nishikant Patil is also contesting as an independent from Islampur. This may provide some relief to Patil.
NCP’s Suman Patil is contesting from Tasgaon and will face tough contest as Shiv Sena has pitched Ajit Ghorpade against her. Sharad Pawar had organised a rally at Tasgaon to kickstart Patil’s campaign, indicating the importance of the seat. In Palus-Kadegaon, late Patangrao Kadam’s son Vishwajit Kadam is contesting for the second time and Sena’s Sanjay Vibhute is contesting against Kadam. In Khanapur, Anil Babar is contesting on a Sena ticket and Sadashiv Patil is contesting as an independent. He has received support from Congress and NCP.
BJP has continued to weaken Congress and NCP in the district by winning the zilla parishad and Sangli Miraj Kupwad Municipal Corporation. BJP also retained the Sangli Lok Sabha seat in 2019. In comparison, Sena does not have sizable influence in Sangli, except in a few pockets like Khanapur.