HomePoliticsDespite high-decibel campaigning, Kasba, Chinchwad assembly bypolls witness low voter turnout

Despite high-decibel campaigning, Kasba, Chinchwad assembly bypolls witness low voter turnout

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Mumbai: Despite the high-decibel campaign run by both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena (led by Eknath Shinde) and the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), the keenly-contested Kasba Peth and Chinchwad Assembly bypolls saw a lukewarm response from the voters on Sunday. 

Around 45.25% voting was reported in the Kasba Peth segment in Old Pune, while Chinchwad had recorded just 41.1% till 5 p.m., said election officials. There are 510 polling centres and 5,68,954 registered voters in Chinchwad and 215 polling centres and 2,75,428 registered voters in Kasba constituency. 

The by-elections have been necessitated following the recent demise of sitting BJP MLAs Mukta Tilak (Kasba Peth) and Laxman Jagtap (Chinchwad). The high-stakes polls are expected to impact the forthcoming elections in the State, particularly the crucial civic polls including of the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), and the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad civic bodies. 

Top of the BJP brass as well as CM Eknath Shinde campaigned hard for their candidates while the MVA leaders, too, strained every sinew in the run-up to the polls: While Deputy CM and BJP Devendra Fadnavis visited Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad for several days ahead of the polls, CM Shinde held a massive road show in support of the BJP’s candidates earlier this week. 

On the MVA side, NCP’s Ajit Pawar, who is determined to wrest his ‘lost’ bastion of Chinchwad from the BJP, campaigned frenetically for the MVA’s candidate Nana Kate, who is pitted against the BJP’s Ashwini Jagtap (wife of the late Laxman Jagtap) in Chinchwad.  

Even NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, who is usually not known to campaign in by-poll, threw his weight while every major MVA leader – including Uddhav Thackeray, Aaditya Thackeray of the Shiv Sena (UBT) and Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole – mounted intense poll campaigns to ensure the victory of their candidates. 

According to analysts, the Kasba Seat – pitting the BJP’s Hemant Rasane against the Congress’s (MVA’s candidate) Ravindra Dhangekar – is likely to be especially close as both candidates are said to be evenly matched.

According to sources, the polling was marred by a few minor clashes: In Chinchwad, a scuffle arose between supporters of Shiv Sena (UBT) rebel candidate Rahul Kalate and the BJP outside a polling station in Chinchwad. Likewise, in Kasba Peth, Congress supporters accused local BJP leader Ganesh Bidkar of distributing cash and allegedly assaulting a Congress activist.   

The MVA is riding high after its success in the recently concluded polls to five Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) seats, where Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena and the BJP could manage to win just one while the MVA scored three seats while breaching BJP bastions in Nagpur and Amravati. 

However, in the Assembly by-polls, the MVA could face problems owing to the triangular fight effected by the contesting of ‘rebel’ Thackeray faction leader Rahul Kalate. Likewise, in Kasba Peth constituency, the BJP may face problems owing to their denying a ticket to the kin of late Mukta Tilak’s family. 


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