LS polls: Will VBA prove to be vote-cutter for Congress in Ramtek?

Ramtek (Maharashtra), April 3 – The Ramtek (SC) constituency in eastern Vidarbha region of the state shot to the limelight because of the unexpected discomfiture encountered by a woman candidate who was replaced by her husband at the last minute.

The official Congress nominee Rashmi S. Barve’s caste certificate was invalidated by the District Caste Certificate Scrutiny Committee and hence her nomination papers were declared void for the April 19, 2024 elections.

However, her husband Shyamrao Daulat Barve — who was the ‘dummy candidate’ — is now the official Congress nominee in Ramtek (SC), an erstwhile party bastion in the Nagpur district.

The Congress anticipates a sympathy factor for Shyamrao D. Barve following a shrill campaign unleashed by the party against the BJP after his wife’s candidature was declared void following the rejection of her caste certificate.

The sitting MP is ruling Shiv Sena’s Krupal Tumane, who was dropped following certain adverse reports on his winnability and Raju Devnath Parwe, who quit as Congress MLA in March 2024 was fielded by the ruling Shiv Sena as a MahaYuti candidate.

Shyamrao Barve will lock horns with the main rival Parwe, plus, Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s (VBA) Kishore U. Gajbhiye, besides a candidate of the Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) — the last two have been usually vote-cutters of the two main parties, and the BSP never crossed the one lakh votes mark.

In the last LS polls, Congress had encountered ‘vote-cutters’ of the VBA and BSP, and in 2014, even the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) fell in this category and effectively negated the Congress’ prospects in the past.

For instance, in 2019, Tumane secured nearly 5.95 lakh votes, Kishore U. Gajbhiye got nearly 4.69 lakh votes, while the BSP and VBA picked up over 44,000 and 36,000 votes respectively.

In the past 17 LS elections, the constituency has been bagged by the Congress 12 times — and the most prominent winner was the former Congress PM late P. V. Narasimha Rao (1984 and 1989); the (undivided) Shiv Sena four times; while an independent and Shiv Sena candidate bagged it in two by-elections (1974 and 2007).

The reserved Ramtek (SC) comprises six assembly segments of which three are held by the BJP, one each by Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (SP).

They are: Hingna (BJP, MLA Sameer Meghe), Kamthi (BJP, MLA Tekchand Sawarkar), Ramtek (BJP, MLA Ashish Jaiswal), Umred (Congress, ex-MLA Raju D. Parwe, now with Shiv Sena), Katol (NCP-SP, MLA Anil Deshmukh) and Savner (Congress, ex-MLA Sunil Kedar, who was convicted in a bank scam and unseated as MLA in December 2023.

The picturesque Ramtek town has hills, forests and a lake which makes it a popular tourist and short-picnic destination, plus a famed Lord Ram Temple and other places of worship.

As per legends, it was here that Lord Ram, Sita and Laxman had spent time during their exile period, and the Prince of Ayodhya had taken a vow (‘tek’ in the local lingo) to kill the ‘rakshasas’ who harassed saints and godmen, and the place came to be known as ‘Ramtek’.

Inspired by the natural beauty here, the legendary Kalidasa had written his masterpiece, ‘Meghaduta’ during his stay here in the 4th-5th century, or nearly 1,500 years ago.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])

qn/uk

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