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Lok Sabha elections 2024: Two Senas feature in Buldhana showdown

Updated on: 22 April,2024 06:55 AM IST  |  Buldhana
Dipti Singh |

While Shiv Sena UBT chief Uddhav Thackeray says anti-incumbency will work in their favour; Shinde Sena denies any threat from rival

Lok Sabha elections 2024: Two Senas feature in Buldhana showdown

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray at a rally in Buldhana district on Sunday. Pic/Satej Shinde

“Will you vote for someone who has only given you empty promises and done nothing for you?” asked Uddhav Thackeray, during a late Sunday evening public meeting in Khamgaon, Buldhana. The Buldhana Lok Sabha constituency in Vidarbha is poised for a showdown between the two factions of Shiv Sena during the second phase of polling on April 26.
Incubment MP Prataprao Jadhav, representing Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde), doesn't see a significant threat from Professor Narendra Khedekar, the candidate from Sena (UBT). Jadhav anticipates that Khedekar might face challenges due to a potential vote split with Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi on the one side and a farmer leader eating into the Maha Vikas Aghadi’s (MVA) share on the other. Conversely, Shiv Sena (UBT) is optimistic about a sweeping victory, citing anti-incumbency sentiments among the constituency’s populace.

Uddhav Thackeray at the Buldhana rally on Sunday
Uddhav Thackeray at the Buldhana rally on Sunday

Khedekar’s confidence is boosted by consecutive rallies by Uddhav Thackeray and other political heavyweights like Sharad Pawar, alongside leaders from the Maharashtra cadre of MVA such as Mukul Wasnik of Congress. He asserts that the historical support from Chikhli in Buldhana, the first place to host a major rally in support of Thackeray after Shinde’s rebellion in 2022, ensures strong backing from the people.

Active engagement

Uddhav Thackeray has actively engaged in meetings with party workers in the region even before the Lok Sabha elections were announced, demonstrating proactive leadership. Local Shiv Sena (UBT) workers perceive his assertive rallies as an advantage over the Shinde faction of Sena. On Sunday, Thackeray, accompanied by his younger son Tejas Thackeray, arrived at the venue of the public meeting in Khamgaon to support Khedekar. Addressing the meeting, Thackeray said: “I visited Buldhana last month too, but compared to last time, the temperature is soaring... Not just due to the weather but due to the enthusiasm of the people of Buldhana and Vidarbha.”

He continued, “The rival here is none other than a ‘gaddar’ [traitor], the one who didn’t spare the same party where he grew and became what he is today. It’s as good as betraying your own mother’s milk." Cracking a whip on the Modi government and accusing the BJP government of neglecting farmers, Thackeray asked the crowd, “When the farmers were in trouble, did he ever visit you? But now for elections, he is coming to your doorsteps again and again. Has Modi and Amit Shah ever come to this part of the country to help farmers and wipe the tears of farm widows?

Shiv Sena (UBT) supporters turned up in large numbers at the school ground where the rally was held. Pics/Satej ShindeShiv Sena (UBT) supporters turned up in large numbers at the school ground where the rally was held. Pics/Satej Shinde

He is only using you, and his only agenda here is ‘tumhi jaga kivva mara… pan mala pant pradhan kara… [you live or die, but make me the prime minister]’. In the last 10 years just barring our term on the state… what development projects has the Modi government brought to Vidarbha? It was in 2014… Modi promised you that MSP on crops would be increased, has he fulfilled his promise?  No growth in the industry sector, no facilities to farmers…. All the industry and development are going to Gujarat instead. If tomorrow, an MVA and INDIA government comes, we will not take away what Gujarat deserves but unlike now, we will not take away from Maharashtra and give to Gujarat."

‘Have you received cash?’

Thackeray also slammed the Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana. He asked the crowd, “Are you getting calls from BJP's office? Are they inquiring if you have received money? Have you actually received the money under the Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana? If not, then I ask you, will you vote for Modi? Also, those who have got the money, how much have you got—Rs 6,000. Now imagine if a farmer buys fertiliser worth R1 lakh, he has to pay Rs 18,000 as GST. Now you get R6,000 under the Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme. Where does the remaining Rs 12,000 go? It goes in the Modi government’s pocket.”

Vacuum cleaner

Talking about the defection of leaders from across party lines to the BJP, Thackeray said BJP leaders are like a vacuum cleaner; the Modi government keeps scouring for the most corrupt leaders across parts; when found, their leaders like a vacuum cleaner suck them into their party, he said. He added, “By taking away our party symbol and by stealing our party name, you claim to have ended Uddhav Thackeray. Fine, if you have, then why are you coming back to Maharashtra?

He added, “Like always, I call Bharatiya Janata Party the bhadkhav janta paksha… Their policies are policies that will push the country into a ditch… I want to tell Modi sarkar you might have ED and the CBI… but I have millions of fingers who will press the button… and vote you out.” Concluding his address, Thackeray appealed to the crowd not to waste their votes by voting for independents. “Vote for MVA candidates if you wish to see development and end the dictatorship. I promise you this. Now you have to choose between my promise and Modi’s guarantee… Ensure that you vote for Khedekar in large numbers so that the gaddar’s deposit is forfeited.”

Meanwhile, Jadhav relies on vote consolidation under the Mahayuti umbrella, especially after the inclusion of NCP (Ajit Pawar) in the alliance last year. Jalinder Budhwat, president of Shiv Sena (UBT) in Buldhana district, dismissed the possibility of a vote split or a three-way contest, affirming that the election will be a direct face-off between sitting MP Jadhav and Khedekar. Budhwat highlights a growing anti-incumbency sentiment against Jadhav, citing unfulfilled promises and projects. He also underscored the enduring support for Thackeray, evident from the significant turnout at rallies even after the split within the party. The candidacy of farmer leader Ravikant Tupkar, although prominent in the district, is deemed unlikely to significantly impact the MVA’s electoral prospects, as per Khedekar and Budhwat.

Year Sena split took place

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