BJP is all set to repeat Pandharpur at Deglur-Biloli assembly constituency in the Nanded district of Maharashtra, which went to by-polls on 30th October. As the results are due on 2nd November, BJP workers are sure to celebrate Diwali with the win. The by-election was held because of the demise of the Congress MLA Shri Raosaheb Antapurkar. As the polling ended peacefully, BJP is set to win this seat with a margin of eight to ten thousand votes, political observers say. Deglur Biloli recorded 63.95 per cent voting, which is a rise of around four per cent against 60 per cent recorded in the 2019 assembly elections. The higher vote percentage is always said to be beneficial for BJP.
Deglur Biloli constituency witnessed a straight fight between BJP's Shri Subhash Sabne and Congress' Shri Jitesh Antapurkar, son of the deceased MLA. While BJP's entire state leadership stormed the constituency in a planned manner, the Congress campaign had to rely only on PWD Minister Shri Ashok Chavan.
BJP fielded Shri Subhash Sabne, a Shiv Sena MLA for twenty years (1999-2019), from Mukhed and Deglur. He lost Deglur constituency to Raosaheb Antapurkar of Congress in the 2019 Vidhan Sabha elections by nearly 22 thousand votes. Sabne eventually defected to BJP and was given a ticket for the by-elections of the Deglur – Biloli constituency.
Congress, in its traditional fashion, fielded the son of deceased MLA Shri Raosaheb Antapurkar. As the BJP sensed that the people were fed up with the mismanagement of the state by the Uddhav Thackeray led MVA government and its rising corruption cases, it decided to storm the constituency with a meticulously planned campaign. BJP also tried to encash the relations maintained in the constituency by Shri Subhash Sabne over the years.
Prakash Gade, a member of the new BJP state team, is hundred per cent sure that the BJP will win the seat by around six to eight thousand vote margin. As for campaign strategy, Prakash Gade told The Organiser that the BJP never depends on a single factor and considers every issue that might impact the electorate. As BJP had to encash the people's dissatisfaction regarding the Thackray government's performance, they prepared a list of issues of public concern. BJP planned a detailed booth level strategy on each issue. As each day of the campaign witnessed two prominent state-level leaders campaigning the constituency, local workers went home to home to appeal to the voters to come out in large numbers to vote. The BJP campaign was headed by Ex-CM Devendra Fadnavis and state BJP chief Chandrakant dada Patil. The voters witnessed the entire state executive of the BJP storming the constituency in a phased manner.
Prakash Ambedkar Factor
The Deglur Biloli constituency is also considered to be influenced by Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi leader Prakash Ambedkar. He fielded Uttam Ingole, a candidate who has a local standing. Moreover, political observers who visited the constituency said that Congress's traditional Dalit-Muslim vote bank has shifted to BJP and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. The margin of BJP win depends on how much of that shifted vote share is grabbed by BJP, said Sunil Chavan, a local farmer keenly interested in politics who lives in a village near Nanded.
Public Anger On Anti-People Policies
Local journalists confirm the vote shift theory. People have anger against the government, they say. Pradip, a stringer, says that the farmers are very unhappy with the government as the Thackray government failed to help the farmers facing severe floods and cyclonic storms. Not a single paisa compensation has been given to the bereaved farmers. In addition, the Thackray government has ordered disconnection of the electricity to collect the pending bills from the disaster-hit farmers. The state government hit a wrong nerve as it failed to pay the state transport employees for months and still issued a circular affecting a 17 per cent hike in bus fares. 30 state transport employees across the state have committed suicide, citing bad financial conditions because of non-payment of salaries by the State Transport authorities. Pradip feels that the overall situation is not favourable for the ruling MVA. "Add the gross mismanagement of the Corona situation and the failure of the CM to help ease the stress of the society facing lockdown, and you can see why BJP is winning," said Pradip.
BJP leader ex CM Devendra Fadnavis is very confident of the win in Deglur Biloli. The entire BJP state executive looks very upbeat after the voting. "We will repeat last year's Pandharpur (by-election) performance in Deglur Biloli," BJP Maharashtra chief Chandrakant dada Patil said while summarising the review of the situation after voting ended in the Deglur Biloli by-polls.
On the other side, Congress looks not confident about retaining the seat, where their MLA died of covid. Generally, the trend is that, because of the sympathy wave, the people elect a person who is a close family member of the deceased leader. But this time, people might have thought differently, feels Anil Shinde, a local Kirana trader of Nanded who is a Congress supporter. He accepts the situation is grim for the Congress in Deglur but still claims that the Congress might successfully retain the seat, "Thanks to the traditional Congress special tactics!" he says, blinking an eye. He also accepts that Shiv Sena looks helpless in this by-poll. Their traditional voters may have been shifted due to the disillusionment with the government functioning and policies, mainly deviation from Hindutva.