Royalty, stars, dynasts, scribe enliven Maha poll scape

Mumbai: Besides the ordinary street-smart professional politicians, there are several others who have taken the political plunge for the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections.

They include royalty, like descendents of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, a descendent of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a mafia don's daughter, some film stars -- and even a scribe desirous of creating headlines.

*Shivendrasinhraje Bhosale, a descendent of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj clan, who recently quit the Nationalist Congress Party to join the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, has been nominated from the prestigious Satara constituency. A three-time MLA, Bhosale's father Abhaysinhraje Bhosale had also represented the seat once on a Janata Party ticket, four times as a Congress candidate and once as a NCP nominee.

*The BJP has nominated its high-profile Pune Mayor Mukta Tilak – the wife of Shailesh Tilak – who is the great-grandson of the freedom fighter, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. She is locking horns with the Congress' Arvind Shinde for the Kasbapeth seat in the city, which is referred to as the state's cultural, academic and IT capital. Interestingly, both are already rivals in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) as senior municipal corporators, though for Tilak, it will be a matter of prestige to retain the seat held for 25 years by Girish Bapat, who was elected to Lok Sabha in the 2019 polls.

*Well-known Marathi actress Deepali Jehangir Sayyad has been given a Shiv Sena ticket to challenge NCP's former minister and National Spokesperson Jitendra Awhad from the Mumbra-Kalwa seat. Sayyad had earlier contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections unsuccessfully from Ahmednagar as an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) nominee and has now walked over to the Sena.

*Another controversial actor Ajaz Khan of Bigg Boss fame is contesting the Byculla seat as an independent, challenging two mega-rivals - All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen's sitting MLA Waris Pathan and also Akhil Bharatiya Sena's Geeta Gawli. Incidentally, a BMC corporator, Geeta Gawli is the eldest daughter of the once-dreaded mafia don Arun G. Gawli, a former MLA who is now incarcerated for life in Nagpur Central Jail.

*Abhijee Bichukale, the Marathi Bigg Boss contestant, who shot to headlines when the Satara Police stormed into the house set and dragged him away kicking and screaming, for a cheque-bouncing case in which he was absconding. Hoping to cash in on his glamour persona, Bichukale is an independent challenging the might of none other than Shiv Sena scion Aditya Thackeray in Worli seat in what appears to be a contest heavily tilted in favour of the latter.

*Another important contest is taking place in Goregaon (Mumbai Suburban District) between BJP Minister Vidya Thakur and journalist-turned-politician Yuvraj Mohite, nominated by the Congress.

It was way back in 1993 when - as a rookie reporter - he had reportedly overheard the late Shiv Sena patriarch allegedly ordering his supporters to attack minorities in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Mosque on December 6, 1992. Later, Mohite had deposed before the Justice BN Shrikrishna Commission that probed the 1992-1993 Mumbai riots and the subsequent March 12, 1993 serial blasts in the city.

*Well-known former Punjabi and Hindi films actor Baldev Khosa has been fielded by Congress from the posh Versova (Mumbai) constituency challenging the sitting BJP MLA Bharti Lavekar. The three-time MLA Khosa -- who acted in several Bollywood and 'Pollywood' (Punjabi) films in the 1970-1980s -- was a close associate of the late union minister and actor Sunil Dutt.