Wednesday 21 November 2018

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Politics | Lok Sabha '98

Border dispute irrelevant in LS polls

 

Belgaum Parliamentary constituency, where polling had to be postponed by one month in ’96 due to record number of 452 independent candidates, has none this time.

It was a political strategy, planned by the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, which has been fighting since 1956 to get its Marathi-speaking border areas merged into Maharashtra.

In order to attract attention of the whole nation, over 400 MES activists had entered the fray. All of them lost deposits, but polled around 25 per cent votes, upsetting all the political calculations, while also upsetting the Election Commission due to the longest ballot paper.

It’s another strategy this time, to field MES candidates and spoil chances of quite a few. It is contesting from Belgaum while boycotting BJP in Kanara constituency, especially in the Marathi-speaking Khanapur Assembly segment.

Maharashtra’s BJP-SS government has made a special mention to resolve the border dispute, in its elections manifesto. Still Kiran Thakur, the MES secretary and editor of Tarun Bharat, the newspaper championing the cause, is contesting from Rajapur constituency, in Maharashtra’s Konkan region.

B H Patil, the Uchagaon MLA, is contesting from Belgaum despite fully knowing that the MES cannot win the seat. Out of eight Assembly segments, Marathi-speaking people dominate only two and a half segments - Belgaum, Uchagaon and part of Bagewadi.

The history has proved that even the Marathi-speaking people vote for other parties during Lok Sabha elections. While losing both the times in 1980 and ’89, the MES could poll only 76,000 and 1.08 lakh respectively.

Patil’s claim therefore that the MES would voice the border issue in the apex house of the country does not hold any water. In fact, even its election campaign is limited to only Belgaum city, Uchagaon and Bagewadi - holding padyatras, cycle rally, two-wheeler rally and a car rally.

Not Tarun Bharat alone, but all the local Marathi dailies are full with MES news reports, as though other contestants do not exist. But the Marathi people think different. With the MES contesting every election, more people drift away towards other parties.

Obviously, the popular choice of the Marathi person here is the BJP - their saffron partner. "Why to waste our votes by becoming over-sentimental of the issue", asks K Patil, a businessman, who judiciously votes for the MES in Assembly and corporation elections.

"The MES leaders have struck a monetary deal with the Congress, to split the BJP votes", alleges Anant Kulkarni, who heads the BJP’s media cell. Getting upset over their political games, residents of Yellur town have prohibited them from entering their town, he claims.

Daulat Mutkekar, an eminent city lawyer, has sought a public explanation from the MES leaders about what conspired between them and Karnataka chief minister J H Patel, when the MES leaders secretly met him in Bangalore.






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