Maharashtra Gram Panchayat poll: Several heavyweights fail the poll test in their own backyard

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A former chief minister, a serving state party chief, and an Union minister were among those who suffered defeat in their own backyards in the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat polls, which saw several established village panels bite the dust.

In Karad South, former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, a serving MLA, suffered a major setback, when a BJP-backed panel captured almost half of the gram panchayats in his assembly constituency. With Chavan’s arch rival Atul Bhosale personally overseeing the BJP-backed panel’s election campaign, his panel came on top in several of the big village panchayats in the region.

Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil also tasted defeat in his own village, when a panel backed by the Shiv Sena scored an upset win over the Patil-backed panel, winning six out of the nine seats in the Khanapur Gram Panchayat. Incidentally, the BJP’s local leaders had joined hands with the NCP and the Congress in Khanapur’s panchayat poll, but they failed to halt Shiv Sena’s charge.

Shiv Sena MLA Prakash Abitkar, who oversaw the campaign in the high-profile village poll, said, “People of Khanapur are mature and know which party can serve them well.”

Patil, when contacted by mediapersons, tried to distance himself from the defeat. While asserting that the BJP-backed panel had lost by a small margin, he said, “As the state BJP chief, the entire state was my area of operation, not just Khanapur.” The BJP had recently also tasted defeat in the Pune Graduates’ constituency polls for the Legislative Council, which had elected Patil on multiple occasions in the past.

Former Maharashtra BJP chief and current Union Minister Raosaheb Danve was similarly jolted after his supporters failed to retain the gram panchayat in his own village in Jalna’s Bhokardan. A Sena-backed panel won here as well. Danve’s son Santosh is the MLA from Bhokardan.

In fact, Danve was dealt with a double whammy, when his daughter Sanjana Jadhav lost her own election from the Pishor village in Aurangabad. Backed by Danve, Sanjana had put up a panel against her own estranged husband, Harshvardhan Jadhav, a former MLA, in the local village panel. While Harshavardhan is in jail over an assault case, Aditya, the couple’s son, had run his father’s election campaign against his own mother. But the villagers rejected both, electing a panel backed by the ruling MahaVikas Aghadi on most of the seats.

In the limelight over allegations of sexual impropriety, Maharashtra’s Social Justice Minister and NCP leader Dhananjay Munde scored another win over his cousin, BJP’s former minister Pankaja Munde, winning six out of the seven seats in the high-profile gram panchayat polls.

Former minister Eknath Khadse, who is now with the NCP, scored one over his old party, BJP, winning six out of 11 seats in his native Kothali gram panchayat in Jalgaon’s Muktainagar. A Sena-backed panel won the remaining five seats. “The victory symbolises the villagers’ faith in Khadse,” said his daughter Rohini.

In Ahmednagar, former minister and BJP heavyweight Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil suffered a setback in his native village of Loni. A panel backed by the Maha Vikas Aghadi won 13 out of the 17 seats in the village, unseating the Vikhe-Patil’s group for the first time in two decades.

But Narayan Rane, another BJP heavyweight and a former CM, showed that he continues to enjoy sizeable clout in Sindhudurg. With Rane helming it, the BJP captured 45 gram panchayats in the district. In a setback to local Sena MLA Vaibhav Naik and former minister Deepak Kesarkar, the Shiv Sena-backed panels won just 23 village panchayats, while the NCP won only one.

Several sitting ministers, including former CM Ashok Chavan, Balasaheb Patil and Shambhuraj Desai, managed to retain their hold on a majority of the village panchayats in their talukas. In Koregaon, former NCP minister Shashikant Shinde’s panel suffered defeat at the hands of a Sena-backed panel. In the Karjat-Jamkhed constituency, MLA Rohit Pawar dealt his rival and former BJP minister Ram Shinde another blow, with the former’s panel willing seven out of nine seats in Shinde’s Chondi village.

In the Ballarpur Assembly seats, sitting MLA and former minister Sudhir Mungantiwar suffered a blow, with the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi winning nine out of 17 seats in the Visapur gram panchayat. In Satara, BJP MP Udayanraje Bhosle’s supporters failed to retain power in Kondve, a village adopted by him. A panel backed by his cousin Shivendraraje, a a BJP MLA, won the village election.



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