As a part of its strategy, the saffron party had organized rallies of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Wednesday in Latur, Sangli and Solapur. However, the party is also quite well-aware of the fact that it would a herculean task for the BJP-Shiv Sena combine to make a considerable impact in this region in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

 The job is not going to be easy for NDA as it faces multi-corned opposition in Western Maharashtra. Union Home Minister and senior Congress leader Sushilkumar Shide enjoys a massive influence in Solapur Lok Sabha constituency. Besides, Sangli is the home-turf of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Sharad Pawar wields huge political clout in the entire Western Maharashtra.

Six out of ten Lok Sabha seats in the region are in Congress-NCP kitty. Baramati, Satara and Madha are under NCP and Congress has Solapur seat. NCP is expected to retain its three seats in the region this time as well as Baramati is considered as an impregnable fort of its supremo Sharad Pawar. Supriya Sule is contesting from family fiefdom for the second time.

Udaynaraje Bhosle, who has hereditary links with Chhatrapati Shivaji, is in the fray from Satara and it needs to be mentioned here that he won the 2009 outing by an impressive figure of around three lakh votes.

In 2009, Sharad Pawar shifted to Madha, making way for his daughter to contest from Baramati. Pawar is not contesting the Lok Sabha polls this time around and chose to enter the Upper House.

This time, former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Vijaysinh Mohite Patil is contesting from Madha. It would be an extremely difficult task, rather impossible for the NDA allies to change the poll equation of these seats.

Sushilkumar Shinde is a sitting MP from Solapur and Union Minister of State for Coal Pratik Patil is an elected MP from Sangli. It’s pertinent to note that Shinde won the last Lok Sabha polls by more than one lakh votes and no Congress leader has conceded defeat on this seat since Independence.

In a bid to make its presence felt, the BJP has joined hands with regional outfits like Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), Republican Party of India (RPI) and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP). SSS leader Raju Shetty is a sitting MP in Hatkanangale and he enjoys sizable influence in the other parts of Western Maharashtra as well.

Shiv Sena has given ticket to sitting Kolhapur MP Sadashiv Mandlik’s son Sanjay Mandlik. By fielding these two leaders, NDA is trying to put up a defiant face before Congress and NCP candidates, a task, which seems to be pretty difficult.

JPN/Bureau

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