The poll campaign in the Thane Lok Sabha constituency is a virtual Shiv Sena – Bharatiya Janata Party – Republican Party of India (Athavale) versus Ganesh Naik contest, with the Indian National Congress and Nationalist Congress Party – led front candidate Anand Paranjape almost pushed into a symbolic oblivion.
In fact the NCP supremo in the constituency Ganesh Naik has repeatedly been mentioning it so and appealing to the electorate to vote for Anand Paranjape and the party workers to campaign for Anand Paranjape as though they were voting and campaigning for Ganesh Naik.
While the deputy leader of the SS Vijay Nahata delves on the merits of the alliance’s candidate Rajan Vichare, none of the front leaders stress much on the plus points of Anand Paranjape.
Ganesh Naik appears to be campaigning more for the forthcoming Assembly and the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation elections than the present Lok Sabha polls.
He emphasizes more on his own performance and while addressing at the Congress Bhavan in Vashi, he claimed credit for getting Congress leaders Anil Kaushik, Ramakant Mhatre, Avinash Lad and Mandakini Mhatre elected as deputy mayor in NMMC.
Even Anand Paranjape states little about his own track record and assures to complete the works initiated by Dr. Sanjeev Naik, when he was a member of parliament from this constituency and swears by the steering of his campaign under the leadership of Ganesh Naik.
Can this translate into victory through votes for Anand Paranjape is the moot question. Moreso with the NCP’s diminishing clout in the constituency as compared to that in 2014, when Rajan Vichare romped home by a massive mandate and a lead of over 2,81,000 votes against Dr. Sanjeev Naik.
Anand Paranjape could gain some votes due to the anti – incumbency factor, Modi’s reduced wave and the considerable rise in the political graph of the INC chief Rahul Gandhi. But will it suffice to cope with the rising fortunes of the SS – BJP – RPI (A) alliance since 2014 in the constituency? The results of the subsequent corporation elections in Mira – Bhayandar and Thane and the Thane, Belapur and Mira – Bhayandar Assembly polls are eloquent enough about this rising trend as also the exodus of prominent INC and NCP leaders like Namdev Bhagat, Gilbert Mendonca, M.K.Madhavi, Vinaya Madhavi, Shivram Patil, Anita Patil, Narendra Patil, Niranjan Davkhare and others to the SS party.
Vijay Nahata exudes confidence of the SS candidate winning by a margin that will forfeit the deposit of the NCP candidate. He points out at the swelling ranks of the alliance supporters and corporators in the constituency.
With almost no talk on what they would offer to the electorate and the constituency, Ganesh Naik pronounces the externment of the Modi government qualifying the chowkidar as mahachor for failed promises of creating 2 crore jobs annually, depositing Rs.15 lakhs in every citizens’ account after bringing back the black money stashed in banks abroad and ensuring minimum support price for farm produce.
In stark variance, the Thane district guardian minister Eknath Shinde, while highlighting his own work and that of the alliance in the constituency, does not fail to mention and glorify the performance of Rajan Vichare in the constituency. He also stresses on the Modi government’s initiatives like the Swachhata Abhiyan, Ujwala project, Jan Dhan Yojana, Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Amrut Yojana and the schemes for social justice, infrastructure development like road, rail and waterway networks in the region. He also talks of strategic planning and functioning of party workers at the booth levels and making every vote count, which will ultimately bear on the lead against the rival candidate.