Nashik Lok sabha Polls: Godse Faces Challenge Amidst Onion Woes and Mahayuti Tensions

Nashik Lok sabha Polls: Godse Faces Challenge Amidst Onion Woes and Mahayuti Tensions

Godse, who was elected as the Shiv Sena (united) nominee in the 2014 and 2019 elections, is pitted against the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Rajabhau Waje. Incidentally, both hail from the politically-influential Maratha community which has been a dominant player in the constituency.

IANSUpdated: Monday, May 13, 2024, 06:23 PM IST
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Nashik Lok sabha Polls: Godse Faces Challenge Amidst Onion Woes and Mahayuti Tensions |

Amid growing unrest among farmers and traders over the Centre's recent decisions on onion exports and widening tension among the Mahayuti partners, the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena nominee Hemant Godse faces a tough challenge to score a hat-trick from Nashik constituency.

Godse, who was elected as the Shiv Sena (united) nominee in the 2014 and 2019 elections, is pitted against the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Rajabhau Waje. Incidentally, both hail from the politically-influential Maratha community which has been a dominant player in the constituency.

The fight between the two Sena factions is also to tighten their grip in Nashik District which is one of the major onion and grape growing areas and exporting hubs in the country. However, the entry of Shantigiri Maharaj has brought a new twist to the contest. Shantigiri Maharaj is the successor of Janardan Swami with a huge following across the country with 115 ashrams and 7 Gurukuls.

There are 31 candidates in the fray in Nashik. A total of 20,30,124 voters comprising 10,59,048 males and 9,70,996 females will cast their votes on May 20. Godse and Waje however, are struggling to pacify the onion growing farmers who are angry with what they term the Centre's 'switch-on switch-off' policies.

Onion farmers angry

The Maharashtra State Onion Producers' Association has expressed strong displeasure over the Centre's decision to impose 14 percent duty on onion exports and later its withdrawal following the farmers' protest. The farmers are also not happy with the Centre's announcement of a minimum export price of $850 per tonne.

The Mahayuti in particular is striving to weather the growing discontent over the Centre's policies pertaining to the kitchen staple to avoid any adverse impact on its poll prospects. On his part, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde is vigorously campaigning in Nashik with an appeal to onion growing farmers to cooperate and is assuring them that the BJP-led government at the Centre and the Mahayuti government in the state are committed to protect their interest.

Opposition slamming govt

At the same, former Union minister and NCP(SP) chief Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray and Congress Legislative Party leader Balasaheb Thorat are slamming the BJP-led government at the Centre and the state's Mahayuti government for their apathy and criminal neglect of the onion growing farmers.

Moreover, the discharge of water from irrigation reservoirs from Nashik to other parts has been a vexed issue, especially during the drought-like situation. Godse has promised to address the issue with river linking projects with the Centre's help while the Maha Vikas Aghadi has pressed that Nashik should get its due without impacting its share.

The growing urbanisation and unemployment, constraints in the growth in industries, slow pace of infrastructure upgradation and problems faced by grape exporters mainly due to WTO-related issues are some of the other issues in the constituency.

Nashik hogged headlines for the delay in arriving at a seat sharing arrangement among the BJP, Shiv Sena and NCP as the trio had staked their claims. A veteran NCP minister and Samata Parishad founder Chhagan Bhujbal's claim that he was told by the BJP's central and state leaderships that he would be in a better position to win the seat further increased the tussle among the three parties.

However, Bhujbal due to lack of announcement of his nomination from his party and from the allies, ultimately opted out of the race paving the way for BJP and Shiv Sena to take the negotiations forward. Even though the BJP has claimed that it has three Legislators apart from the presence of over 100 Corporators, ultimately Shinde prevailed and renominated Godse.

Godse made his renomination a prestige issue and put up his case strongly by organising a show of strength in front of Shinde despite opposition from BJP and a section of the Shinde faction. However, observers say the politics over denying nomination to Bhujbal has made Godse and Waje step up their efforts to ensure support from the 6.5 lakh-strong OBC community in the constituency.

Godse heaved a sigh of relief after Bhujbal joined the Mahayuti's campaign. Godse had defeated Chhagan Bhujbal's nephew Sameer Bhujbal in the 2019 elections. Further, Godse had outsmarted Chhagan Bhujbal in the 2014 elections. Even as the campaigning has gathered momentum, Shiv Sena legislator Suhas Kande's allegation that Bhujbal was working for NCP(SP) in the adjoining Dindori constituency led to a verbal duel between the two, giving the Maha Vikas Aghadi an opportunity to expose the burgeoning rift in the Mahayuti.

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