The ruling Shinde-BJP government got a significant boost on Wednesday as its candidate won the Palghar Zilla Parishad (ZP) hence defeating Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) contenders. Shinde Sena's Prakash Nikam and BJP's Pankaj Kore were elected unopposed as the ZP's president and vice-president, respectively. The NCP had issued a whip to abstain from voting owing to the recent controversy around party leader Jitendra Awhad.
Talking to The Free Press Journal, MLA Sunil Bhusara and NCP Palghar District President conceded that the MVA had no numbers to stake a claim for the posts of president and vice-president.
The electoral contest was intriguing as there were attempts to poach ZP members while an activist of Shinde Sena had even filed an abduction case. Even both the winners had filed their nominations
amidst tight security and in the presence of Minister Ravindra Chavhan, MP Rajendra Gavit, MLA Shrinivas Vanga and ex-MLA Ravindra Phatak.
Profile of Winners
A resident of Mokhada taluka, Prakash Nikam has been in politics for 22 years. His first electoral win was the Tarapur ZP Seat in Palghar Taluka. Subsequently, he was elected a Mokhada gram panchayat member in 2000 then a Mokhada Panchayat Samiti member in 2002 and 2010. He served as the
Panchayat Samiti Chairman twice; in 2005 and 2012. He entered the ZP after winning in 2014 and registered his second victory in 2019. His wife Sarika Nikam is also a ZP member. Mr Nikam was one of the first elected representatives from Uddhav Sena to switch to the Shinde group.
This is the second electoral win of Mr Kore in a year. Previously, he wrested the Vanai ZP seat which went to the bypoll on October 5, 2021. Back then, he had defeated MP Gavit's son Rohit in a closely fought election.
Interestingly, this is the second time when an elected representative of Palghar Taluka had become the ZP President. Mr Nikam will succeed Vaidehi Wadhan who, too, was from Palghar Taluka.