Lok Sabha elections 2018: BJP, Congress in direct fight in Jalna Lok Sabha seat

Jalna: Sitting Jalna MP Raosaheb Danve of the BJP will look to continue his winning spree in this Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra where the Congress is hoping to make an impact by raising water scarcity and farm issues.

Danve, who is also Maharashtra BJP president, has been winning the Jalna parliamentary constituency since 1999. However, the BJP leader faced nervous moments when his local political rival Arjun Khotkar of the Shiv Sena announced a few weeks ago that he will contest against the sitting MP despite the two saffron parties having a pre-poll alliance.

The fued between Danve and Khotkar, a state minister, had threatened to derail the BJP’s campaign and dent its prospects in this central Maharashtra constituency, which goes to the polls in the third phase on April 23. It took several rounds of meetings between senior BJP and Shiv Sena leaders to resolve the fued between the two warring politicians. Finally, Khotkar was pacified and he agreed to support the candidature of Danve.

Though there are 20 candidates in the fray, the main fight is likely to be between Danve and Vilas Autade of the Congress, which last won the seat way back in 1991. The parliamentary constituency consists of six assembly segments spread across Aurangabad and Jalna districts in the Marathwada region of the state. There are around 18 lakh voters in the constituency.

Of these Assembly segments, the BJP has three MLAs Santosh Danve (Bhokardan), Naryan Kuche (Badnapur) and Haribhau Bagade (Phulambri), while the Shiv Sena has two MLAs Sandipanrao Bhumre (Paithan) and Arun Khotkar (Jalna). The Congress has only one MLA Abdul Sattar (Sillod), who recently quit the party.

Besides Danve and Autade, Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi’s Sharadchandra Wankhede and Mahendra Kachru Sonavane of the Bahujan Samaj Party, among others, are also in the fray. The BJP is confident of Danve’s victory after Khotkar decided to support of his candidature.

During his campaign tours, Danve has been reaching out to Shiv Sainiks in Badnapur, Bhokardan and Paithan assembly segments. Recently, he held a meeting with Sena leader and former MLA Santosh Sambre and sought his support. In 2014, Danve had defeated Autade by 2.633 lakh votes.

District BJP president Rameshwar Bhandarge said it’s going to be a “cake walk” for Danve this time because of development works carried out by him in the constituency. “We have a good organisation here and we have done micro planning on 2,000 polling booths in the constituency,” he said.

However, Autade said there is a great deal of resentment among farmers against Danve in the constituency which is facing water scarcity. City Congress president Shaikh Mahmood said, “We are cornering the BJP over the issues of water scarcity, drought in the region, unemployment and non-fulfilment of promises made in run up to the last elections.”

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