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Hectic lobbying in Congress and BJP for Dhule-Malegaon Lok Sabha seat
Monday February 24, 2014 4:47 PM, Staff Reporter

As the Congress High Command prepares to decide the official candidate for the Muslim dominated Dhule-Malegaon Lok Sabha seat in its meeting scheduled for Thursday, hectic lobbying, which was on since more than a year now, intensified further with about half a dozen aspirants accompanied by a huge number of supporters meeting the party observers who were in the city on Sunday.

The party observers who included All India Congress Secretary Anees Ahmed, Revenue Minister in Maharashtra Government Bala Saheb Thorat, Sports Minister Padmakar Dalvi and others were up for a surprise as the candidates who aspired to contest the ensuing general election on Congress ticket lined up to meet them with their supporters.

Not only the party bigwigs including Amerishbhai Patel, Satyajitsinh Gaekwad and Asif Shaikh Rasheed who were there to demonstrate their might, few political novice like Dr Tushar Shewale, Shehnaz Khalil and Irshad Jagirdar - too were seen trying to show their influence
in front of the party observers.

The observers however were tight-lipped and chose not to give any hint.

"We will be submitting our report to the party high command tomorrow and a final decision will be taken on Thursday", Anees Ahmed said after the meeting.

On their parts, Amrishbhai Patel is confident that the party will give him a second chance. But, Asif Shaikh Rasheed and Satyajitsinh Gaekwad are banking on the mood which is for a young and new face, and hence hope that the party high command will consider the nomination of either of them.

Dhule-Malegaon parliamentary constituency comprises six Vidhan Sabhas and has approximately about 07,00,000 Maratha voters and 04,55,000 Muslim voters. It is currently represented by Pratapdada Sonawane of BJP. Sonawane (2,63,260 votes) had defeated Amrishbhai Patel (2,43,841 votes) of Congress in the 2009 general election by some 19,000 votes.

It is said that a huge number of votes taken by Nihal Ahmed (72,738 votes) and Anil Gote (53,000 votes) paved the way for BJP's victory in this Muslim dominated constituency.

Political analysts however say that the reason for Amarishbhai Patel's defeat was the infighting in the local Congress party, and the reason that he hails from Shirpur which does not fall in the Dhule-Malegaon constituency.

Meanwhile, BJP is also trying to field a strong candidate from the constituency so as to retain the seat. Among top contenders for the seat are sitting MP Pratapdada Sonawane and Subhash Devre. Anil Gote who contested the 2009 election as independent has recently joined the BJP and he too is eying the party ticket.

Party insiders however say that the BJP will no take a risk to repeat Pratapdada Sonawane due to his non-performance, and there is no way Anil Gote's name will be considered. Against this backdrop, a strong possibility is that Subhash Devre, who runs a chain of educational institutes in the district and is incidentally local Congress leader Rohidas Patils's brother-in-law, will be given the BJP's ticket.

Besides Congress and BJP, Advay Hirey - son of former minister Prashantdada Hirey, has also declared to contest the election as an independent. Interestingly, like Subhash Devre, Hireys too have a close relationship with Rohidas Patil.

There are also reports that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is considering to field a strong candidate. If this happens, the Dhule-Malegaon election will be a four-cornered contest.

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