Chhagan Bhujbal facing challenge in Yeola constituency

NASHIK: Former ex-deputy Chief Minister and also considered a 'strongman', Chhagan Bhujbal is facing another trial, a crucial battle for maintaining his seat in the bastion of Yeola-Lasalgaon assembly constituency of Nashik district.

The BJP-Sena alliance has fielded Sambhaji Pawar, who will be contesting for the second time while Bhujbal had represented this constituency thrice earlier. Though there are eight candidates in fray, the main fight would be between the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Shiv Sena alliance.

Pawar had contested the 2014 elections unsuccessfully and is trying again. His thrust is on change and is urging people to vote for the saffron alliance for the sake of development. He is a local candidate, who had contested on the Sena ticket in the last elections.

Pawar is the nephew of former legislator, Marotrao Pawar. He was a novice in the 2014 elections but today he represents the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), Panchayat Samiti, Kharidi Vikri Sangh, NDCC bank, Mazdoor Federation and Zilla Parishad In the 2014 elections, Pawar got 66,345 votes in comparison to Bhujbal's 1,12,787.

Bhujbal, who is contesting after serving a jail term, is said to have staged a master stroke before the announcement of election by channelling water to the parched areas in north Yeola, through the Punegaon project.

However, Maratha Mavla Sanghatna district president Devidas Gudghe said, after the water from Punegaon river overflowed, it channelled as all dams in the district. He alleged, “Since 2004, there is no development in the constituency.”

Bhujbal is the only candidate to have won for the third time from this constituency since 1952 and is now vying for a fourth term but his image as a strongman has taken a beating due to his incarceration.

The basic problems plaguing this constituency are, bad roads, poor industrial development, less number of employment and other issues. The famed Paithani saris are woven in Yeola and the weavers are facing hardships, sources said.

Bhujbal’s supporter, Santosh Khairnar said Bhubal is doing work. “The water, which used to flow into the sea was diverted to Yeola by Bhujbal and this water will also help the Marathwada region. Other drought alleviation projects were completed and now only a few villages are getting water tankers compared to a hundred earlier.” He added, presently there are 400 Paithani saree shops in Yeola and soon sericulture would be introduced to help the weavers.