Maha polls: Will ‘Mr clean image’ help Chavan win Karad seat?

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Maha: Tough road ahead for ‘Mr clean’
Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan often referred to as ‘Mr clean' of Maharashtra politics, is struggling hard not only to get firmer grip in his home constituency but also in the State politics. Chavan is facing tough challenge from sitting MLA who has won the South Karad seat seven times. This will be interesting to see whether his ‘Mr clean' image help Chavan survive the October 15 election.

Tough challenge from sitting MLA

Chavan often referred as ‘outsider in State politics' by his rivals, is contesting the Assembly polls for the first time from the South Karad constituency. In fact, he has returned to the electoral arena after a gap of 15 years. The last time, he was elected to Lok Sabha in 1991,1996 and 1998, he lost the poll in 1999.

Chavan's opponent, Vilas Patil Undalkar, is a seven time MLA and a Congress rebel who, this time chose to fight the Assembly poll as an Independent after the Congress decided to field Chavan from South Karad. Popularly known as Kaka, Undalkar has got NCP's support in the Assembly polls. His supporters claim that the 79-year-old leader enjoys a good support among the people in the rural part of the constituency.
Unlike Undalkar, Chavan does not have connect with the grass-root people of the area.

Udalkar who declined the NCP's ticket, claimed that people want him to lead again. "I have made my constituency a role model for development. No other leader can claim he did everything in 44 months. I'm here for last 35 years and will be so this time too, Undalkar was quoted as saying in Firstpost report.

The rivalry between the two leaders is not only limited to poll fray but it more than that. Their rivalry dates back to the times of Chavan's parents' stint in the Congress. Undalkar's supporters claim that Chavan has falsely implicated his son in a murder case.

Given the NCP's support, Undalkar is poised to give tough challenge to Chavan.

Banking on his clean image

Chavan entered into State politics in 2010 on Congress high command's order after then CM Ashok Chavan resigned over the Adarsh housing scam controversy. His opponents accused his of not doing anything for the welfare of the State during his stint, but he has received applause for his clean image.

In the Assembly polls too, Chavan is trying to sail smoothly using his ‘clean-image' plank. His supporters are of view that in his 44-month stint, Chavan has changed the urban-rural face of the constituency and he should be given another chance. They say that ever since he was appointed as State Chief Minister, Chavan has pumped in around Rs 1,800 crore for the development related work in the constituency.

The other candidates in the fray are BJP's Atul Bhosale and Shiv Sena's Dr Ajeenkya Patil. But, Chavan does not consider them as big threat. Bhosale, a former Congress leader who lost the 2009 Assembly election is banking on Modi's image while Sena's Patil is fighting election on development plank.

Undoubtedly, with such big leaders in the fray, the voters in South Karad are in dilemma over the selection of candidate. The verdict of the public, which will come out on October 19, in this crucial constituency will be interesting to see.

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