As the Lok Sabha elections approach, Maharashtra's Ramtek constituency has emerged as a hotly contested battleground, with various political parties vying for dominance despite the absence of formal seat-sharing agreements between alliances.
The NCP, led by Sharad Pawar, has caused a stir within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance by unilaterally announcing Prakash Gajbhiye as its candidate for the Ramtek seat, disregarding the seat-sharing process within the coalition.
Discord Among Coalition Leaders
Rajendra Mulak, president of the district Congress committee, emphasized the need for collective decision-making within the MVA before finalising candidates. He highlighted the party's standard procedure of soliciting applications, conducting interviews, and consulting the parliamentary board.
Dushyant Chaturvedi, representing the Shiv Sena (UBT), expressed surprise at the NCP's decision, reaffirming Uddhav Thackeray's commitment to contesting the Ramtek seat independently. He indicated the Shiv Sena faction's determination to retain control of the constituency.
Party leader Salil Deshmukh from the NCP defended the party's choice of Gajbhiye, citing internal support and demand from party members. However, he expressed hope for endorsement from other MVA constituents. Salil is the son of party loyalist and senior NCP (Sharad Pawar) leader Anil Deshmukh.
“Many of our office-bearers and workers demanded that Gajbhiye’s name be finalised for the constituency,” said Salil Deshmukh. “Accordingly, we decided to announce his name. We hope our other constituents will also endorse it,” he added.
Ex-Minister Dismisses Rumours About Joining NCP
On the other hand, former Maharashtra minister Anees Ahmed dismissed speculations of his potential defection to the NCP (Ajit Pawar), reaffirming his loyalty to the Congress amid swirling rumours. “I am very much in the Congress, and there is no question of leaving the party,” said Ahmed.
Kunal Raut, State Youth Congress chief, is actively campaigning in rural areas of Nagpur, positioning himself as the Congress candidate for Ramtek. Similarly, the Shiv Sena (Shinde) intends to field Krupal Tumane, the incumbent Lok Sabha member, for his third term.
BJP's Aspirations For Ramtek Seat
Chandrashekhar Bawankule from the BJP hinted at the party's desire to claim the Ramtek constituency in the seat-sharing negotiations, further complicating the electoral landscape.