Maharashtra: Shiv Sena's Shinde faction-BJP, MVA lock horns in bypolls
Amid the ongoing political conflict between CM Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena faction and Uddhav Thackeray's group in Maharashtra, voting for Kasba Peth and Pimpri Chinchwad Assembly bypolls began on Sunday. According to Hindustan Times, a voter turnout of 30.55% was recorded in the Pimpri Chinchwad Assembly constituency, while the Kasba Peth Assembly seat recorded a voter turnout of 30.05% as of 3:00 pm.
Why does this story matter?
- The political landscape in Maharashtra was turned upside down when Shinde switched sides and joined forces with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last year, unseating the then-reigning Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
- Additionally, the Election Commission of India (ECI) acknowledged Shinde's group as the real Sena last week, worsening Thackeray's political situation.
- Amid this tug of power, the bypolls are being held in Maharashtra.
Bypolls were held due to 2 BJP MLA deaths
The bypolls were necessitated following the deaths of BJP MLAs Mukta Tilak (Kasba Peth) and Laxman Jagtap (Pimpri Chinchwad). Pune's Kasba Peth constituency is witnessing a contest between BJP's Hemant Rasane and Congress's Ravindra Dhangekar, who is backed by the MVA alliance of the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Sena (UBT). Meanwhile, BJP's Ashwini Jagtap is fighting NCP's Nana Kate in Pimpri Chinchwad.
Voting underway for Kasba Peth Assembly constituency
Section 144 in areas around polling booths
Voting for the bypolls in Kasba Peth and Pimpri Chinchwad began at 7 am on Sunday. The constituencies have 270 and 510 polling stations and 2,75,428 and 5,68,954 registered voters, respectively. According to reports, shops and other outlets within a 100-meter radius of the polling booths will remain closed on Sunday under CrPC Section 144.
ECI monitoring polling through webcasting
The ECI is directly monitoring the voting process at 390 polling stations, as per HT. "We have identified polling stations, which are 50% of total election centers, for webcasting to ensure the process [happens] smoothly without any untoward incidents," Pune District Collector Rajesh Deshmukh said.
Shinde, Pawar, other top leaders campaigned for bypolls
Notably, the Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) faction is not directly contesting in the bypolls but is backing the MVA alliance. Over the last 10 days, Maharashtra CM Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, state Congress president Nana Patole, NCP leader Ajit Pawar, and Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray, among other top leaders reportedly campaigned in both constituencies.