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Second phase of polls kicks off in state today

Thursday, 17 April 2014 - 10:05am IST Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014 - 1:19am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

With the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls starting in Maharashtra on Thursday, the Congress is finding its support base weakening in at least four seats — Solapur, Dhule, Nandurbar, Latur and Sindhudhurg

In the Solapur Lok Sabha (reserved) seat, BJP's Sharad Bansode, 41, will give a tough fight to Congress' Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde. Shinde, 72, who was elected thrice from this seat is facing a lot of anger across the constituency.

Voters say he failed to do any development work during his long tenure. To salvage the situation, Shinde made an emotional appeal to voters saying this would be his last poll. But the caste factor too is working against him. Bansode belongs to the Mahar caste, which has a sizable presence in this constituency, while Shinde belongs to the Chambar caste.

In Latur, Congress' Dattatreya Bansode is pitted against BJP's Sunil Gaikwad. After the death of former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Congress has lost its grip on Latur. People are unhappy with the functioning style of Vilasrao's son Amit Deshmukh who is the Congress MLA. People are angry over the mysterious death of Youth Congress leader Kalpana Giri on March 21.

Nandurbar, where Congress president Sonia Gandhi started her political career with a massive rally in 1996, was traditionally a Congress bastion. But Dr Heena Gavit, 31, daughter of expelled NCP minister and MLA Vijay Kumar Gavit is making matters difficult for nine-time sitting MP Manikrao Gavit of the Congress.

In the Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri constituency, Congress' Nilesh Rane, son of industries minister Narayan Rane, is pitted against Shiv Sena's Vinayak Raut. Rane Jr is facing an uphill task in retaining Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri seat where senior Congress and NCP leaders have failed to unite their workers in spite of NCP chief Sharad Pawar and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar warning and dissolving NCP district units. NCP MLA Deepak Keskar has decided to campaign for Sena candidate Raut.

"Poeple are angry. They are fed up with the constant price rise. Farmers are not getting good price for their products. And, that anger has been systematically encashed by Narendra Modi," Jaydeo Dole, political analyst said. "Traditional Congress bastions are turning into saffron zones... CM Prithviraj Chavan too is to blame; he did not take care of the Congress rank and file. The Congress may see its lowest ever tally in Lok Sabha this time."

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