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Two rival Shiv Sena factions vie for legitimacy in Buldhana, uphill climb for both

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Buldhana (Maharashtra), April 21 (IANS) Famed globally for its Lonar Crater Lake born out of a meteorite strike on earth around 500,000 years ago, the Buldhana Lok Sabha seat has been a Congress bastion but later switched loyalties to the (undivided) Shiv Sena.

This time the two main rivals are the ruling Shiv Sena and the Shiv Sena (UBT) who will contest for a sort of referendum on which faction the Buldhana electorate will select.

Sitting MP Prataprao G. Jadhav of the ruling alliance MahaYuti’s Shiv Sena is attempting his fourth consecutive victory since 2009, making it a prestige issue for the party now banking desperately on the late Balasaheb Thackeray’s legacy.

He will grapple horns with the Maha Vikas Aghadi-Shiv Sena’s (UBT) Narendra Khedekar in a direct fight between the two factions which emerged after the June 2022 split in the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena.

Besides, there is the fiery farmers' leader Ravikant Tupkar contesting as an Independent and already giving jitters to the two main Sena contenders with his massive poll meetings; the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s Vasantrao Magar and Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party’s nominee Gautam Maghade.

This Lok Sabha seat has given a Union minister (Mukul B. Wasnik) and a MoS (Anandrao V. Adsul) at the Centre, and others who held important positions at the state level.

Since 1952, Buldhana has elected a Congress candidate nine times, Shiv Sena nominees six times, besides Bharatiya Janata Party and Republican Party of India representatives once each.

Buldhana Lok Sabha seat comprises six assembly constituencies, of which three are held by the BJP, two by the ruling Shiv Sena and one by Deputy CM-Ajit Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, with none from the Opposition alliance, which could pose a formidable challenge to its contender.

They include: BJP legislators in Chikhali (MLA Shweta Mahale), Khamgaon (MLA Akash P. Fundkar), Jalgaon-Jamod (MLA Sanjay Kute); Shiv Sena’s Buldhana (MLA Sanjay Gaikwad) and Mehkar-SC (MLA Sanjay Raimulkar); and Sindkhed-Raja (MLA Dr. Rajendra Shingne).

The district, with a population of over 26 lakh (2011 Census) is famed for its historical and tourism destination like Sindkhed-Raja, the birthplace of Rajmata Jijabai -- the mother of the legendary Maratha warrior-king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and the abode of the revered Sant Gajanan Maharaj in Shegaon.

The Lonar Crater Lake attracts international tourists and researchers, it has an average diameter of 1.2 km and a depth of up to 500 feet, with its own unique ecosystem, and was declared as a Ramsar Site in November 2020.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: q.najmi@ians.in)

--IANS

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