Keen contest for Maval seat

Maval parliamentary constituency, which straddles the extended suburbs of Mumbai and Pune, will witness one of the most keenly-fought battles in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.


Nithin Belle

Published: Thu 20 Mar 2014, 12:15 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:39 AM

Carved out in 2008, it includes the assembly constituencies of Panvel, Karjat, Uran, Chinchwad and Pimpri, a mix of urban and semi-urban places that is witnessing frenzied development. Land sharks have been battling activists, wanting to get approvals for projects, even as property prices have soared in recent years.

Several illegal structures have also come up in places like Pimpri-Chinchwad, the twin city of Pune. Shrikar Pardeshi, an upright officer, and former commissioner of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, launched a campaign against the nearly 200,000 illegal structures in the city over the past 18 months.

However, last month the state government, apparently under pressure from politicians of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), transferred him despite strong public opposition. Opposition parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Shiv Sena, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) launched agitations protesting against the transfer.

But Ajit Pawar, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra — and nephew of Sharad Pawar, the NCP chief — defended the transfer. However, the government did not agree to regularise the illegal constructions in Pimpri-Chinchwad and other parts of Maval, leading to a rebellion in the party.

Laxman Jagtap, a powerful and popular independent leader from Maval — and the MLA from Chinchwad, who had the backing of the NCP — criticised Pawar for not regularising the illegal buildings. After the parliamentary elections were announced, the NCP announced Jagtap as its candidate from the constituency, but he refused to accept it.

Jagtap is now contesting the elections from Maval on the ticket of the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), which has a significant presence in the region.

The NCP also lost another senior leader from the constituency, when Azam Pansare — who had contested on the party’s ticket in the 2009 elections — quit and joined the Congress. Pansare was upset that the NCP had offered the Maval ticket to Jagtap. But the NCP managed to woo Rahul Narvekar, a senior leader of the Shiv Sena and the party’s official spokesperson for the English media. Narvekar, who was close to both Uddhav Thackeray, the party chief, and his son Aditya, who heads the youth wing of the Sena, felt humiliated when the party nominated him for elections to the Maharashtra legislative council, but failed to provide him the support of other legislators.

Claiming to be a victim of ‘internal politics’ within the Sena, he accused the party of sabotaging his election prospects. Narvekar, whose father-in-law is Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, a senior NCP leader, has been meeting Sharad Pawar of late. He has now quit the Sena and has been declared the NCP’s candidate from Maval.

Interestingly, the Shiv Sena has also not given the ticket to Gajanan Babar, the sitting MP from Maval, who has also quit the party. While Babar has not announced his plans, he might end up contesting as an independent. Babar, who has been with the Sena for 45 years, accused the party of ‘selling’ tickets. The Sena has declared Shrirang Barne as its candidate from Maval.

AAP has declared Maruti Bhapkar, a grassroots politician (who had also opposed expansion of the Hinjewadi software park) as its candidate from Maval.

More news from WORLD