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Constituency Watch: Solapur Cong hopes to regain lost glory, BJP aims to score hat-trick by betting big on young blood

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Mumbai, May 3: The Congress and the BJP are locked in a direct fight in Solapur Lok Sabha reserved constituency in Maharashtra.

Both parties have fielded young Legislators in a bid to lure Millennials.

The constituency has traditionally been a Congress bastion, but since 2014 the BJP has made sufficient inroads.

The Congress has fielded three-term Legislator from Solapur City Central Assembly, Praniti Shinde against the BJP’s first-term Legislator Ram Satpute.

Shinde has an edge as she is the daughter of veteran Congress leader and former Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde who was also the Chief Minister of Maharashtra for a brief period, and she hopes to regain lost glory of the party.

Satpute, who hails from a family of sugarcane harvesters from Beed District, has the solid support of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the BJP’s poll machinery. He is approaching the electorate and seeking votes for a hat-trick for the BJP.

Shinde got a boost after the Congress’ traditional rival, Communist leader Narsayya Adam extended support to her.

In addition, the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s decision not to field its nominee has been a booster dose for Shinde who hopes to mobilise maximum support from Muslims, Dalits, OBCs apart from Marathi-speaking voters and others.

The NCP(SP) and Shiv Sena (UBT) have charged up their cadres in support of Shinde as together the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has succeeded in putting up a united front against the BJP.

Shinde and the MVA are cornering the BJP and Satpute over the ‘400 paar’ slogan with an objective of change in the Constitution of the country.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi in his address at the campaign rally held last week criticised the BJP saying that this was not an ordinary election.

He further alleged that for the first time after Independence, there was a party that wanted to destroy the Constitution.

Shinde has tweaked her campaign strategy by aggressively taking up the issue of change in Constitution that will put the existence of SCs, STs and tribals in jeopardy.

Further, Shinde, who has been vocal in criticising the Modi Government on core issues, is raking up the present state of unemployment, farmers’ distress, inflation during the 10 year rule of the BJP at the Centre.

On the other hand, Satpute is riding on PM Modi’s guarantee, apart from the presence of four BJP Legislators and their work in the constituency.

Satpute and BJP Legislators who are joined by Shiv Sena and NCP hope to outsmart Shinde by exposing the rift among the MVA partners and cashing in on their organisational strengths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally held last week has raised hopes for Satpute as the BJP feels that his message of a Viksit Bharat and his rebuttal to the Congress’ campaign have gone down well with voters.

However, the BJP is finding it difficult to sell the Ram Mandir plank as the hype created after its inauguration has been missing in the constituency.

Satpute is taking up the Modi Government’s slew of initiatives including 25 crore people getting freedom from multidimensional poverty, direct transfer of Rs 34 lakh crore using PM Jan Dhan Yojana, Rs 13,000 crore PM Vishwakarma Scheme among others.

He also reaches out to the voters with development programmes proposed and implemented by the Mahayuti Government from 2022.

Despite development being brought to the centre stage, both candidates face the voters’ wrath over Solapur city’s water shortage and supply of drinking water just once a week.

This apart, the closure of Siddheshwar Sugar Factory, lack of commissioning of Solapur airport, ban on onion export, decline in the prices of soybean and other agricultural produce and failure in the implementation of Solapur Smart City project are other key issues that both the candidates promise to address after being elected.

There are 20,30,119 voters comprising 10,41,470 males and 9,88,450 females who will exercise their voting rights on May 7.

Of the six Assembly constituencies, BJP holds Solapur City North, Akkalkot, Solapur South and Pandharpur while Congress represents Solapur City Central and NCP has its Legislator in the Mohol seat.

During the 2019 elections, BJP nominee Jaisidhesvar Swami defeated Congress candidate Sushilkumar Shinde. Swami had polled 524,985 votes against 366,377 votes by Shinde.

In the 2014 elections, BJP nominee Sharad Bansode had emerged victorious with 517,879 votes against Congress stalwart Sushilkumar Shinde who had polled 368,205 votes.

IANS

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