Maharashtra Assembly Polls: A shootout of a different kind for former encounter cop Pradeep Sharma

Updated: Oct 19, 2019, 07:33 IST | Sanjeev Shivadekar | Mumbai

Fabled encounter cop Pradeep Sharma has Harvard grad and two-time MLA Kshitij Thakur in his sights in Nalasopara

Kshitij Thakur
Kshitij Thakur

Two-Term sitting MLA from Nalasopara Kshitij Thakur (Bahujan Vikas Aghadi) is all set to encounter tough opposition in political newcomer and Shiv Sena candidate Pradeep Sharma. For Thakur as well as the citizens of Nalasopara, the upcoming polls are going to be dramatically different from the earlier ones. Unlike the 2009 and 2014 assembly polls, where the Harvard graduate managed a smooth entry into the Vidhan Sabha, this year he will face a former encounter specialist.

The new challenge has sent Thakur's Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) into heavy preparation mode. Thakur had defeated his rival Chavan Shirish Jayram of the Shiv Sena in 2009 with 89,284 votes against the Sena candidate's 48,502 votes. Similarly, in 2014, the BVA candidate defeated BJP's Rajan Balkrishna Naik who polled 59,067 votes as against 1,13,566 votes garnered by Thakur.

Pradeep Sharma
Pradeep Sharma

This time around, Sharma has pulled all triggers to secure the Nalasopara seat from Thakur. While he is relatively new to the constituency, he has managed to make inroads into the region in a short span of time. The former cop, in every public meeting, makes it a point to speak of the poor infrastructure, erratic drinking water supply, bad roads and waterlogging issues that the city has been witnessing for the past few years.

Sharma did not respond to calls made by mid-day. However, he had in an earlier conversation said that his priority would be to improve civic amenities in the region. "Those at the helm of affairs over here have failed to deliver. I will ensure a makeover of the constituency," the Sena candidate said.

Kshitij Thakur campaigns hard in Nalasopara
Kshitij Thakur campaigns hard in Nalasopara

Asked about Sharma's allegations, Thakur said that the Sena candidate should first do his homework. "There have been instances where Matoshree (Thackeray residence in Bandra) has been flooded this monsoon. Despite this, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya have always maintained that the corporation or administration can do very little in the matter owing to the topography of the city.

But if Sharma still feels that the BVA has lagged in developing this region, will the former cop raise similar questions on the Thackerays for failing to deliver in Mumbai? Will the Sena candidate show the courage to hold saffron leaders responsible for the misery of Mumbaikars? I am ready for an open debate on this on any public forum," the BVA candidate told mid-day over a call.

Banking on party legacy
He added that a lot was still to be done for the development of the region and that the party was learning from the past to ensure a better future for the people of Vasai-Virar region. Thakur is the son of Vasai-Virar strongman MLA Hitendra Thakur who floated the BVA which runs the Vasai-Virar civic body. Of the 115 corporators in the corporation, 109 belong to BVA. The Harvard graduate is thus banking on his work as MLA for the past 10 years and his party's presence in each ward of the constituency.

89,284
No. of votes Thakur polled against Sena rival in 2009

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