INDIA 2024 India News Politics

Onion hub Dindori set to witness MahaYuti-MVA face-off

The polling comes amid unrest among the onion farmers of what is Asia’s biggest onion hub….writes QUAID NAJMI

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bastion since 2009, the Dindori (ST) reserved Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra’s Nashik district, will witness a direct confrontation between a Union Minister and a newcomer in the 2024 Parliamentary polls.

The main contest is between NDA-BJP’s Union Minister Bharati P. Pawar and INDIA bloc-Nationalist Congress Party (SP)’s Bhaskar M. Bhagare, plus Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA)’s Malati R. Dhomse.

The polling comes amid unrest among the onion farmers of what is Asia’s biggest onion hub.

The current situation has potentially become “embarrassing” as the Centre’s recent move to lift the ban on onion exports to help the farmers did not exactly give the desired results.

The implementation of the move itself was mired in a huge controversy — first it was permitted for Gujarat, and after an uproar, to farmers in the rest of India, ostensibly to maintain the domestic prices.

However, the outcome has apparently gone awry as the domestic prices of onions have actually fallen — contrary to the intentions, and again, the farmers are at the receiving end.

This could have repercussions on the prospects of the sitting MP, particularly since the onion farmers had been demanding relief like roll-back of the 40 per cent export duty on the kitchen stable and related issues for more than nine months.

“What should have happened much earlier came during the election season, and started with Gujarat before allowing the rest of India and that too with conditions. This has raised questions about the government’s intentions and the farmers feel they are back to square one,” said a wholesale onion trader, Rajesh Shahu, in Mumbai.

Maharashtra has 22 onion-producing districts sprawling across 12 Lok Sabha constituencies, but Dindori (ST) is the leader and the onion-growing farmers all over have been hit, particularly the tribal farmers here, he added.

The government’s latest move attracted all-round political flak both for the timing and the manner of implementation without having the desired effect.

Accordingly, this pent-up angst could spill over to the voting arena, Shahu explained, and it remains to be seen who will shed tears and who will celebrate with cheers after the May 20 elections.

Coming into existence after the 2008 delimitation exercise, the Dindori (ST) seat has elected a BJP candidate – Harishchandra Chavan twice in 2009-2014, and Bharati Pawar in 2019, a former (undivided) NCP leader, who was also rewarded with a central minister of state berth.

Bharati Pawar, who quit the NCP just before the 2019 LS polls, is the daughter-in-law of the late NCP strongman Arjun Tulshiram Pawar, a former state minister who was also a close aide of Sharad Pawar.

Dindori (ST) LS seat comprises six Assembly segments and all are controlled by the ruling MahaYuti alliance in the state, with four held by Nationalist Congress Party and one each by Shiv Sena and BJP.

They are — NCP’s Kalwan-ST (MLA Nitin Pawar), Yevla (MLA Chhagan Bhujbal), Niphad (MLA Dilip Bankar) and Dindori-ST (MLA Narhari Zirwal); BJP’s Chandwad (MLA Rahul Aher) plus Shiv Sena’s Nandgaon (MLA Suhas Kande).

All the Assembly segments are renowned onion producing centres along with the huge wholesale markets like Lasalgaon, Pimpalgaon, Yevla and Niphad which are located in Dindori (ST).

Fadnavis taunts Sharad Pawar  

The Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, said on Saturday that whenever Sharad Pawar’s party becomes weak, he joins the Congress and later leaves it.

Clarifying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not made an ‘offer’ to NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar, but ‘advised’ him to join the NDA, the senior BJP leader said, “From 1977 till date, we have seen that whenever Sharad Pawar’s party weakens, he merges with the Congress and then exits.

“Sharad Pawar had said that he contested the elections on five different symbols. If we look at his political career, whenever his party became weak, he joined Congress, corrected his position, and then left the party,” Fadnavis said.

He said that PM Modi has advised Pawar not to merge with the Congress, which is a sinking ship, but to join the NDA.

“Sharad Pawar has realised that the Ajit Pawar-led NCP nominee will win the Baramati seat. So he made a statement that the regional parties should merge with Congress after June 4. So, he knows the outcome of the elections. Already you are drowning, and now you are going to a sinking ship,” Fadnavis said.

On his part, Pawar has ruled out the possibility of joining the BJP-led NDA, saying that there is no question of joining “such people who have no faith in democracy”.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena’s sitting MP from Palghar Dr Rajendra Gavit has rejoined the BJP.

Gavit, who was in the Congress and worked as the minister of state in Maharashtra, joined the BJP in 2018 and was elected in a bypoll to the Lok Sabha from Palghar seat. In 2019, as per the agreement, Dr Gavit joined Shiv Sena and successfully contested the Lok Sabha seat.

However, Dr Gavit rejoined the BJP in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the state unit chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule.

Dr Gavit’s move comes days after the BJP got Palghar seat during the seat-sharing arrangement with Shiv Sena. He was subsequently approached by Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis inviting him to rejoin the BJP. Dr Gavit decided to rejoin the party after Fadnavis received a nod from Shiv Sena chief leader and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in this regard.

Rajendra Gavit thanked the BJP and DyCM Fadnavis for inducting him into the party, saying that he will work for the MahaYuti in the state.

DyCM Fadnavis said that the BJP decided to reinduct Dr Gavit considering his experience as the MP, legislator and minister and also taking into view his abilities to take party work forward in the state.

Meanwhile, DyCM Fadnavis targeted the Congress and the INDIA bloc for their criticism that members from the Muslim and minorities have not got due representation in various schemes implemented by the Modi government in the last 10 years.

“In a number of schemes, including Prime Minister Awas Yojana, Ujwala scheme and Toilet Scheme, Muslim and minority community members have been the beneficiaries. There is a difference between the thinking. Congress claims the Muslims have first right in the national resources while BJP says poor have first right,’’ he added. He accused the Congress party of playing divisive politics.

The Deputy Chief Minister supported the CM Eknath Shinde’s statement that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government had planned to put him in jail during its two-and-a-half-year rule. “It is true. The ‘supari’ was given to many. A Police Commissioner in Mumbai was appointed to carry out this job. However, nothing happened. They could not touch me as I continued to work as the leader of the opposition,’’ he noted.

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