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Lok Sabha elections 2024: ‘I’m not an outsider. I spent 26 years here’

Updated on: 18 April,2024 07:18 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

Surprise Shinde Sena pick in Yavatmal Washim, Rajashri Patil, shoots down criticism

Lok Sabha elections 2024: ‘I’m not an outsider. I spent 26 years here’

Shiv Sena candidate Rajshri Patil addresses a public meeting at Pusad, Yavatmal on Tuesday. Pic/Satej Shinde

The second phase of Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for April 26, promises to be a challenging battle, particularly for Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, as he strives to maintain unity within the Sena faction under his leadership following the necessity to pick and drop candidates as per the BJP’s directives.

Under pressure from ally, the BJP, the Sena replaced their sitting five-time MP Bhavana Gawali despite her eleventh-hour attempts to retain the ticket. In a surprising move, the Sena then picked Rajashri Patil, the wife of Hemant Patil, the sitting MP from Hingoli for the seat replacing Gawali.

Patil, a well-known businessperson and philanthropist, steps into a constituency formerly led by another leader, facing criticism and accusations of being an outsider. However, in an interview with mid-day, she countered these remarks, stating that she is not unfamiliar with the constituency, as Yavatmal is her maternal home, and she completed her early education there. She says she is a daughter of Yavatmal, and grew up here.

What do you consider as significant issues that you would prioritise in the constituency?
There is a lot to be done in this region to shed the tag of being backward and underdeveloped. My priorities include creating employment opportunities for youth and women, establishing industries based on local agricultural produce like cotton, soyabean, and toor, and revitalising the deteriorating MIDC belts. Talukas lacking MIDC infrastructure will receive priority for their establishments to generate local employment. Additionally, improving and constructing roads, ensuring water for irrigation and other purposes, and increasing the number of schools are crucial. Although Yavatmal has been approved for a Kendriya Vidyalaya, the lack of proper infrastructure remains a concern.

Your candidacy from Yavatmal-Washim seat was a last-minute and unexpected one. What is the response you have been getting from people on the ground?
Despite the unexpected nature of my candidacy, I’ve been heartened by the positive response from the people during my campaign visits. They see me as one of their own, given my longstanding ties to the region. Yavatmal has been my maternal home for over 26 years, where I spent my childhood and received my early education. I’ve been actively involved in various educational and social activities here, and many locals recognise my work. For instance, I spearheaded efforts to rejuvenate the Pus River in Pusad.

Your rival has labelled you an outsider, calling you a “bahercha product”...
The people I’ve met during my campaign regard me as a familiar face, not an outsider, thanks to my extensive involvement in social work. I pay little heed to such criticism from rivals who seem to lack substantive issues to discuss. Elections should focus on developmental agendas, not trivial matters. Labeling someone, especially a woman, as a “product” is not only disrespectful but also reflects a narrow mindset. It’s an insult not just to me but to all women who transition to their marital homes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leaders in the state are confident of securing victory in all 10 seats in Vidarbha. What do you think?
One of the voices in the “400 paar” call will undoubtedly be from the Yavatmal-Washim constituency. We are definitely going to win all 10 seats in Vidarbha. Despite over seven decades since the independence the real development of the country has rocketed only during the last ten years. So people will want to see Modi government back.

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