Jaywant Awale may be done in by the company he keeps
Jaywant Awale was the Congress candidate from the reserved (SC) Latur Lok Sabha constituency in the 2009 polls. And though there were murmurs in the constituency against the imposition of an outsider—Awale hails from Kolhapur in western Maharashtra—the late union minister and former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s charisma ensured Awale’s victory here.
Five years down the line, the party has fielded a local candidate, Dattatraya Bansode, here. He, however, faces rough weather, more due to the absence of Deshmukh, who could manage to keep the party rank and file intact across major part of the constituency spread over six assembly seats. The dissent amongst party workers against the style of functioning of Deshmukh’s MLA-son, Amit, is another reason that may work in favour of the strong BJP nominee, Sunil Gaikwad, sources said.
Gaikwad, who is considered Bansode’s closest competitor vis-à-vis other candidates like that of the BSP and the AAP, had lost last time by a meager margin of 7,975 votes.
“It is true the party has given ticket to a local bowing to pressure from activists. However, following Deshmukh’s demise, there is no leader whose word is respected across the constituency. His family, led by elder son Amit, is trying hard to elect Bansode, but there is opposition against Amit’s style of functioning and the close aides of the late leader are not happy with him. Deshmukh was very humble unlike his son, they feel,” sources told dna.
The sources added that former chief minister and legislator from Nilanga assembly constituency, Shivajirao Nilangekar-Patil, wasn’t in the picture anymore, and ex-union home minister Shivraj Patil-Chakurkar, being the governor of Punjab, is keeping away from the campaign.
“It is true that Chakurkar’s hands are tied, but his supporters can play an active role in the campaigning, but that’s not happening. Same is the case with Nilangekar-Patil’s camp. This is because if Bansode wins, the entire credit for it will go to Amit, uplifting his stature as leader of the district in the post Vilasrao-era,” sources claimed.
The sources, however, added that the controversy surrounding Congress functionary Kalpana Giri’s murder, in which the names of local party leaders had cropped up, was unlikely to damage Bansode’s prospects. “That issue won’t matter much as the accused in the matter have already been arrested,” source added.
Despite repeated attempts, Deshmukh junior, Nilangekar-Patil and Gaikwad could not be reached for their versions.
As far as Latur voters are concerned, issues like water supply, proper intra-district and intra-state road and rail connectivity, etc are the primary issues. “Both the BJP and the Congress are putting in great efforts to win. But the people here are more concerned about these long-pending issues. The one that can find solutions to these issues should win from here,” Sandeep Patil, a resident of Shirur Anantpal taluka, said.
Total candidates: 18, including Dattatraya Bansode (Cong), Sunil Gaikwad (BJP), Deepak Kamble (BSP) and Deepratna Nilangekar.
Latur, Latur city, Ahmadpur, Udgir, Nilanga, Loha
According to a rough estimate, there are 30% Maratha voters; Lingayat community, represented by Shivraj Patil-Chakurkar has a voter base of nearly 25%; the remaining comprises Dalits and Muslims.
2009 Lok Sabha results
Total voters: 15,09,987
Jaywant Awale (Cong): 3,72,890
Sunil Gaikwad (BJP): 3,64,915
Babasaheb Gaikwad (BSP): 34,033.