NIRGOSH GAUDE | NT
Ponda: With election momentum reaching its peak in Shiroda, it is clear that the assembly constituency will witness a neck and neck fight between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Subhash Shirodkar and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) candidate Pandurang ‘Dipak’ Dhavalikar in the bypoll, which will be held on April 23.
Even as Congress candidate Mahadev Naik is far behind in the campaign, his share of votes may play a crucial role in this bypoll.
There are still a few days left for the campaigning to end for the bypolls and a lot can happen in the last two days. Political analysts say that some small events can change the entire momentum towards or against any candidate in the fray on the eve of voting, as Shiroda has become a high-voltage battlefield for the BJP, which is in power in the state and MGP, which is out to take revenge against its former senior ally for throwing out the party from the government after poaching its two legislators.
Though Shiroda voters are coming out openly with their support to the candidates of their choice, there are, however, some people, who have preferred to remain silent till date. Thus people of Shiroda are holding their cards close to their chest and are likely to open them only on the voting day.
Winning the Shiroda seat is a prestige issue for BJP, while for the MGP, it has become an issue of existence after its two legislators joined the saffron party a few days back.
Leaders of the BJP are trying hard for victory of the party candidate, who was ‘imported’ from Congress party, against its traditional ally-turned-new rival. With its president Dipak Dhavalikar contesting the bypoll, the MGP has almost put everything at stake for the Shiroda seat.
In a pledge to defeat Dhavalikar, the BJP brigade has focused on the Shiroda seat with its main leaders trying their best to convince the voters to elect their candidate. However, despite the fact that BJP is in power and has done a lot to woo the voters, the anti-incumbency factor against its candidate is turning out to be a disadvantage for the party.
Shirodkar has represented Shiroda for almost five terms in a row in the past. Then he was defeated for two terms after which he managed to return back as MLA in 2017, but he quit the seat to join BJP.
On the other hand, MGP candidate Dhavalikar is a new face for the people of Shiroda. Though he has represented the Priol constituency for two terms, people find his approach towards them a new one and something different from the previous representatives. It seems to have become an advantage for the MGP candidate and a lot of people seem to be bending towards the oldest regional party. However, aggressive campaigning has been started against him by Priol MLA and Minister Govind Gaude and that has reduced Dhavalikar’s advantage a little bit.
Gaude has been actively campaigning against his archrival Dhavalikar by focusing on voters from the tribal community in the constituency. As there is a sizable number of tribal voters in Shiroda, it can have an impact on the election result.
Secondly, the MGP has tendered its support to the Congress party for the Lok Sabha polls, but in Shiroda the party is fighting against the grand old party. So it will be interesting to note how voters will react to this and what will be the stand of Mahadev as election campaigning ends in the next few hours.
“Now it’s time to try something new for the small term of three years. If this too fails, we soon can bring change,” expressed people.
MLAs from this constituency became ministers and held important portfolios in the past. However, they failed to resolve the unemployment issue, water shortage issue, traffic congestion, electricity outage and various other issues faced by the constituency. Considering this, the impulse of the people suggests that this time they may go in for a change.