Maharashtra Assembly bypoll: MVA seizes BJP stronghold of Kasba Peth after nearly 30 years 

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Supporters of Congress candidate Ravindra Dhingekar celebrate his victory in the Kasba Peth Assembly by-election in Pune on March 2, 2023.
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Supporters of Congress candidate Ravindra Dhingekar celebrate his victory in the Kasba Peth Assembly by-election in Pune on March 2, 2023. Photo credit: PTI

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In a blow to the ruling coalition in Maharashtra, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance won the Kasbah Peth Assembly by-election, ousting the BJP from the constituency for the first time in nearly three decades.

Congress’s Ravinder Dhingekar, MVA candidate and a former four-time corporator, won a landslide victory in the BJP bastion of Peth town in “old Pune”, defeating BJP’s Hemant Rasane by over 11,000 votes. Mr. Dhingekar polled over 72,000 votes while Mr. Rasane managed a little over 68,000 votes.

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However, the BJP managed to retain the Chinchwad assembly constituency, with its candidate Ashwini Jagtap – wife of late MLA Laxman Jagtap – winning by more than 36,000 votes over her nearest rival, MVA’s Nana Kate (from him). won by a solid margin of Nationalist Congress Party).

Ms. Jagtap polled a little over 1.35 lakh votes while Mr. Kate bagged over 99,000 votes. However, the BJP managed to win Chinchwad mainly due to a three-way split in the vote with Rahul Kalate, the leader of the ‘rebel’ Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), winning 44,000 votes to MVA’s pitch. He contested as an independent.

The two by-elections, for which voting was held on February 26, were necessitated by the recent deaths of sitting BJP MLAs Mukta Tilak (Kasbahpeth) and Laxman Jagtap (Chinchwad).

According to some analysts, the changing demographics of the Kasba segment after delimitation in 2009 and the BJP’s lack of a strong local leader like Girish Bapat – who held the Kasba seat from 1995-2019 – contributed to the saffron party’s defeat. Cause

Commenting that the results “sent a strong message across Maharashtra”, Leader of Opposition and NCP leader Ajit Pawar said that all three MVA parties (NCP, Congress and Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction) have “worked together. a united spirit for campaigning.

“Despite the ruling BJP and the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena using every tool to defeat Ravindra Dhingekar, he emerged victorious and MVA won the seat that BJP had held for the past 28 years. has been a bastion of P. A message has gone out in Maharashtra that if all the three parties fight together and the seats are distributed properly, no one can stop the MVA from winning future elections in Maharashtra. “The Shiv Sena cadre has expressed its anger over the manner in which Uddhav Thackeray was removed as Chief Minister by voting against the Shinde-Fadnavis government in the Kasba by-election,” Mr. Pawar said.

The NCP leader further observed that had Mr. Rahul Kalate (of Thackeray Sena) not contested as an independent, MVA would have won the Chinchwad seat as well, thereby splitting the vote and MVA candidate Mr. Nana. Reduces the chances of a cat.

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the BJP’s “use and throw away” policy had cost him in the by-elections. “First, they used Shiv Sena and Akali Dal and then dumped them when those parties served their purpose. They did that of late. [Goa CM] Son of Manohar Parrikar [Utpal Parrikar] When they refused to give him a ticket. [in the 2022 Lok Sabha election]. Now, they have refused to give a ticket to a Tilak family member in the Kasba Peth election.

Mr. Thackeray claimed that there was “tremendous discontent” against the BJP within the Tilak family.

However, late Ms. Tilak’s son Kunal Tilak rejected such suggestions.

Meanwhile, admitting that Kasbah Peth’s defeat calls for introspection.

BJP state president Chandrasekhar Bawankule dismissed joy over MVA’s victory, saying “no stronghold of BJP has been breached”.

“This is not a win for MVA, but a win for a particular candidate. Ravindra Dhingekar had voter sympathy because he lost the last election. Congress is nowhere in the assembly election results of three northeastern states today. [Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya]. Why are Congress and MVA so happy about a single win in Kasbah? Mr Baunkole said.

A high-decibel campaign was waged in the town by top BJP officials as well as Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, while MVA leaders also pressed everyone in the run-up to the polls. Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis visited Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad ahead of the polls and Mr Shinde held a massive road show in support of BJP candidates.

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