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Lok Sabha elections 2024: ‘Yavatmal-Washim will teach traitors a lesson’

Updated on: 18 April,2024 07:15 AM IST  |  Yavatmal
Dipti Singh |

Deshmukh flays Shinde faction, defends ‘outside product’ jibe at rival

Lok Sabha elections 2024: ‘Yavatmal-Washim will teach traitors a lesson’

Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate from Yavatmal-Washim Sanjay Deshmukh

In an attempt to shore up its ranks and have a strong contender to take on leaders from the Eknath Shinde camp in Yavatmal-Washim, the Shiv Sena (UBT) had inducted and fielded former partyman-turned-rebel Sanjay Uttamrao Deshmukh.

After assuming the role of Digras taluka chief as a Shiv Sena member in 1998, he ascended to the position of Shiv Sena’s district chief alongside Sanjay Rathod.
In the 1999 Assembly elections, he broke away from the party and contested independently, securing a seat as an MLA. Serving from 1999 to 2004, Deshmukh represented the Digras Assembly seat. During his tenure, from 2002 to 2004, he held the portfolio of minister of state, overseeing sports and mines.

Deshmukh paid tribute to the late Vasantrao Naik at his memorial at Gahuli village in Pusad, Yavatmal on Tuesday. Pics/Satej Shinde
Deshmukh paid tribute to the late Vasantrao Naik at his memorial at Gahuli village in Pusad, Yavatmal on Tuesday. Pics/Satej Shinde

Despite setbacks and losses in elections thereafter, Deshmukh persisted. In the 2019 Assembly elections, he once again challenged Sanjay Rathod. Despite Rathod’s victory, Deshmukh garnered over 75,000 votes, demonstrating significant support for his candidacy. Following the Shinde rebellion in 2022, Deshmukh joined Uddhav Thackeray’s faction.

He has now emerged as one of the pivotal candidates representing Shiv Sena (UBT) and INDIA in Vidarbha. In an interview with mid-day, he expressed confidence about victory, asserting that he wouldn’t need to exert significant efforts to defeat ‘gaddars’ [traitors].

The Yavatmal-Washim constituency has consistently elected the same MP for the past five terms. How do you assess the region’s development over the past two decades?
Over the past 20-25 years, with the incumbent MP serving for such a prolonged period and the BJP holding power at the Centre for a decade, the development narrative in Yavatmal-Washim remains bleak. The completion of crucial projects, such as the railway line, has been sluggish, with only 34 kilometres completed in the past decade. This pace of development starkly contradicts the grand promises made by the BJP, undermining their claims of substantial progress under PM Narendra Modi’s leadership.

What do you consider to be the significant issues you would prioritise?
If entrusted with the responsibility by the electorate, my foremost priority would be to address the pressing need for employment opportunities for our youth and to resolve the challenges faced by our farmers, ensuring fair prices for their produce. I am also committed to upholding the principles of our constitution and advocating for the rights of marginalised communities. Drawing from my experience as an Independent MLA for two terms and my tenure as a state minister, I possess a deep understanding of legislative frameworks and will leverage this knowledge to raise pertinent issues in Parliament. I will also endeavour to expose the falsehoods and dispel the misleading narratives propagated by the BJP government, presenting a more accurate image to the citizens of our nation.

The PM has emphasised in his election campaign how government schemes have purportedly benefited the poor, underprivileged, Dalits and tribals. Have these schemes reached your constituency?
The reality is that the government has halted recruitment for government jobs, opting instead to prioritise privatisation and cater to the interests of industrialists and businessmen. There is a pressing need for the government to focus on assisting and safeguarding the common people–the poor, marginalised, farmers, and the unemployed. Unfortunately, I have not observed any of these purported schemes reaching the marginalised communities anywhere in my constituency.

BJP has been emphasising development in election campaigns. Will this help them win seats in Vidarbha? What are your thoughts on this?
I challenge the BJP to highlight a single project they initiated and completed in Yavatmal-Washim since coming to power under Modi’s leadership. If they can show even one such accomplishment, I’ll gladly carry out whatever punishment they deem fit. Development seems to be confined to Gujarat; Vidarbha in Maharashtra has seen little progress. The election results will demonstrate how the tide has turned against the BJP. Even seats contested by stalwarts like Nitin Gadkari are facing challenges this time.

Yavatmal-Washim is set to witness a unique scenario with Shiv Sena pitted against Shiv Sena. How do you foresee this battle unfolding?
In my view, the other faction of Shiv Sena is nothing but a group of gaddars. The true Shiv Sena is the one led by Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray. Balasaheb Thackeray toiled tirelessly, akin to turning blood into water, to unite people and establish this party, naming it Shiv Sena. These traitors have betrayed Balasaheb Thackeray’s legacy. Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray commands immense respect across religious and caste lines. The people will surely teach these traitors a lesson by not voting for them. Gone are the days when people relied on local leaders or intermediaries to dictate their voting choices. People are more discerning now; they make their own decisions.

You have been criticising the rival candidate Rajashree Patil from Shinde Sena, referring to her as a ‘Baher cha [outside] product’ in your campaigns. Don’t you think this is offensive?
Absolutely not, but what the BJP and Shinde’s camp have done is more offensive to the people. The disregard for local representation is evident in their choice to field an outsider. This decision undermines the trust of nearly 19.50 lakh voters and belittles the importance of native candidates. This outsider was a rejected candidate from Hingoli, and they have gotten a rejected candidate here. The arrogant belief of the BJP that they can field anyone and still win is soon to be shattered by the voters, who will reject their overconfidence and arrogance at the polls.

Do you think if your rival candidate was sitting MP Bhavana Gawali, the fight would have been a little tougher?
Regardless of who my rival would have been, it seems the people have already made up their minds. After witnessing years of governance and slow development, coupled with the fact that this rival is an outsider, I believe victory is out of their reach.

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