Mumbai Several prominent candidates contesting in Maharashtra may be blood relatives or hail from the same clan, but divergent political views — and more importantly personal ambitions — have catapulted them in positions of confrontation in many constituencies for the October 21 elections.
As witnessed on several occasions in the past, the campaigns by the candidates against their relatives are no-holds-barred, though many claim the enmity is only limited to the public political arena, otherwise they enjoy best of family relations in private.
*The most high-profile in this genre are the Munde cousins slugging it out in Beed the stronghold of the late union minister Gopinath Munde.
His aggressive daughter and Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde, reportedly harbouring chief ministerial dreams, is pitted as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate to safeguard her Parli seat from her prowling cousin, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde, a MLC, and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) nominee.
While initially, Pankaja said the contest would not be a cakewalk, later she claimed it would be a cinch, though Dhananjay, who lost to her in 2014, is earnestly working to unseat his heavyweight cousin in the battle to control Beed.
*Next door in Beed constituency (in Beed district), an uncle-nephew are locking horns — BJP Minister Jaydutt Kshirsagar against his nephew Sandeep Kshirsagar — in yet another fight for prestige and family influence.
*In Gevrai (Beed) the Pandit family is contesting against each other with an uncle-nephew team in the fray. The BJP has re-nominated Laxman Pawar, who had trounced the sitting MLA Badamrao Pandit, formerly NCP and later with Shiv Sena.
The NCP has now fielded Pandit’s nephew Amarsinh Pandit, while his uncle (Badamrao Pandit) is contesting an independent, both taking on the BJP’s Pawar.
*Latur’s Nilanga seat is up for grabs with a tough family fight in which former Chief Minister Shivajirao Nilangekar-Patil’s son, Ashok Nilangekar-Patil is pitted on a Congress ticket against his nephew, state minister Sambajirao Nilangekar-Patil, who is fighting on a BJP ticket.
*In a family feud unfolding among the royals of Aheri, in the Maoist-infested Gadchiroli district, the main fight is between NCP’s Dharmarao Baba Atram and his nephew, minister Amberishrao Atram, standing on a BJP ticket.
*In Pusad (Yavatmal), another big fight is on between members of the formidable Naik family of which the late Vasantrao Naik and his nephew Sudhakarrao Naik were chief ministers of the state.
This time, Vasantrao Naik’s grandson Indranil Naik of Congress is pitted against his cousin Nilay Naik of the BJP.
Indranil is the son of former minister Manohar Naik and Nilay Naik is the latter’s nephew and both families trying to fortify their traditional stranglehold over the Pusad seat.
*In contrast, Amit Deshmukh and his brother Dhiraj Desmukh — brothers of Bollywood actor Riteish Deshmukh and scions of the late Union Minister and former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, have no rivalries and the duo contest their seats independently without heartburns on Congress tickets.
Dhiraj is making his polls debut from Latur Rural and Amit is seeking re-election from Latur City with Latur district considered a traditional Deshmukh family stronghold.
Luckily for both, their apolitical glamourous brother Riteish is vigorously campaigning for both sibling in turn to ensure their victory.