In a major setback to the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in Maharashtra, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Samadhan Autade, on Sunday, won the by-election to Pandharpur-Mangalwedha assembly seat in Solapur district and defeated Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Bhagirath Bhalke by a margin of 3,733 votes. The by-election was necessitated as NCP’s sitting legislator Bharat Bhalke died due to COVID-19.
With today’s victory, BJP’s tally in the state assembly increased to 106, while NCP’s strength reduced to 53. The MVA partners had made the by-election a prestige issue. BJP fought it aggressively while taking up the failure of the state government on various fronts. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and state NCP chief Jayant Patil extensively travelled the constituency and addressed rallies, but failed to bring together the party workers from Pandharpur and Mangalwedha together for the party's victory.
On other hand, BJP succeeded to tap the discontent amongst the NCP cadre and the lack of cooperation amongst the ruling partners. More importantly, former Deputy Chief Minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil and former NCP leader Sudhakar Paricharak played a crucial role in BJP’s victory. Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis led the campaign from the front.
Patil, in his reaction, said, “The ruling partners wholeheartedly worked for the NCP nominee. However, NCP failed to retain the seat, as the party failed to have a proper dialogue with the cadre and voters from Pandharpur and Mangalwedha talukas. Therefore, party candidate Bhagirath Bhalke lost by a small margin.”
However, BJP has hailed the party's victory in the Pandharpur-Mangalwedha by-election and said that the voters have expressed their anger against the MVA government. State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said, “People are angry with the coalition government. The government disconnected the electricity connections, did not help farmers, nor deposit the compensation due to various calamities into the bank accounts of the affected families. On top of it, there is no implementation of the financial package account for the poor and economically weaker sections affected due to lockdown.” He added, “People have lost faith in the MVA government and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray cannot run the government. It was proved with today’s outcome.”