Ahmednagar Lok Sabha Seat: Electoral Showdown Anticipated Between Sujay Vikhe, Nilesh Lanke

Ahmednagar Lok Sabha Seat: Electoral Showdown Anticipated Between Sujay Vikhe, Nilesh Lanke

It will be interesting to see who clinches this high-profile seat, as the competition is expected to be intense and could come down to the wire in a nail-biting contest

Aakash SinghUpdated: Friday, March 15, 2024, 01:18 PM IST
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Ahmednagar Lok Sabha Seat: Electoral Showdown Anticipated Between Sujay Vikhe, Nilesh Lanke | File Photos

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already declared sitting MP Sujay Vikhe Patil as its candidate for the Ahmednagar Lok Sabha seat. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Vikhe Patil secured victory over the undivided Nationalist Congress Party's (NCP) Sangram Jagtap. Jagtap is now aligned with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's camp, a part of the ruling Mahayuti coalition. Meanwhile, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is yet to finalise its candidate, with Parner MLA Nilesh Lanke emerging as the frontrunner. Lanke, until recently associated with the Ajit Pawar faction, has publicly expressed his desire to contest from the Ahmednagar Lok Sabha constituency.

In a press conference on Thursday, Lanke switched sides and affirmed his allegiance to Sharad Pawar. "I have always followed the ideology of Sharad Pawar. My election campaign in 2019 was launched by him. I never departed from his ideology and party," stated Lanke in the presence of the NCP founder. He mentioned that there had been no discussion on the Lok Sabha elections yet and emphasised his commitment to Pawar's directives.

The 44-year-old has garnered attention for his commendable work during the Covid-19 pandemic, earning praise across the state. Sharad Pawar commended Lanke's dedication, acknowledging his selection by the party in the 2019 Assembly elections. "He might have made certain decisions recently, but he has remained devoted to his voters and will continue to work for the public," stated Pawar.

State NCP (SP) chief Jayant Patil hinted that Lanke will be a Lok Sabha candidate of the party in Ahmednagar. “Lanke is a popular leader in Ahmednagar. He is famous in the neighbouring district as well due to his work during the Covid pandemic. He always believed in the ideology of Sharad Pawar and also contested the last Assembly elections under his leadership. He continues to use the photo of Sharad Pawar saheb,” Patil said.

'Lanke was disappointed due to local politics'

Ajit Pawar has admitted that Lanke was disappointed due to local politics. "I held a meeting with him yesterday (Wednesday). He had complained about a state minister (from Ahmednagar). I told him CM Eknath Shinde, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, the concerned minister and I will resolve the matter," Pawar said.

However, he urged Lanke to remain within the party fold and adhere to the party whip. "I told him to stay where he is. He is an NCP MLA and the whip of the party applies to all. If he does something different, he will have to resign and then contest the (Lok Sabha) election," the Deputy CM added.

Dismissing Lanke's aspirations for Lok Sabha, Pawar stated, "He has no influence beyond his constituency Parner, and someone has filled his head with unattainable dreams."

Who has the upper hand in Ahmednagar?

In the political landscape of Ahmednagar, the BJP and NCP have historically been arch-rivals. The current MP, Sujay Vikhe, secured victory over NCP's Sangram Jagtap in 2019. Before that, the seat was held by BJP's Mansukhlal Gandhi in 2009 and 2014, succeeding the NCP’s Tukaram Gadakh.

The Ahmednagar Lok Sabha constituency comprises six Assembly segments. Notably, in the 2019 elections, the undivided NCP emerged victorious in four of these segments. Among the NCP MLAs securing victories were Rohit Pawar from Karjat-Jamkhed, Lanke from Parner, Prajakt Tanpure from Rahuri, and Sangram Jagtap from Ahmednagar City. Additionally, Babanrao Pachpute, a former NCP leader who joined the BJP in 2014, won from Shrigonda, while Monika Rajale of the BJP triumphed in Shevgaon.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see who clinches this high-profile seat, as the competition is expected to be intense and could come down to the wire in a nail-biting contest.

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