Legislative assembly

Political activities accelerate in all major Belagavi parties

With the announcement of the elections to the Belagavi City Council, political activities increased in all the main parties in the city. The poll, scheduled for September 3, promises to be different as it is the first time in decades that polls of local urban organizations will be challenged on partisan affiliations. The BJP was the first to say it would fight the polls on the basis of a party ticket. BJP State President Nalin Kumar Kateel and other party leaders held a meeting with the city’s unit leaders a week ago. Legislative Assembly member Abhay Patil, who inaugurated the campaign office in Goaves here on Sunday, expressed confidence that the city’s mayor and deputy mayor will be from the BJP.

The Janata Dal (S) then said he would present candidates in all 58 wards. The Aam Aadmi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party also made similar announcements. There are reports that AIMIM will present its candidates, although there is no official announcement yet. Congress was the last to announce it. Party leaders held several meetings with local leaders. Senior leaders BK Hariprasad, Syed Nasir Hussein, L. Hanumantiah and MB Patil held four meetings with Satish Jarkiholi, Lakshmi Hebbalkar, Firoze Sait and others. The incumbent KPCC chairman Satish Jarkiholi announced on Saturday that the party’s first list of likely candidates would be released by Monday, giving them plenty of time to campaign. To a question, he said Congress would not entertain leaders who may defect from Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti. “We will not give a ticket to any candidate who wants to fight against polls on linguistic lines, whether they are followers of the MES or not,” Jarkiholi said.

Observers say the focal point of the polls will be the influence the MES will have on the minds of voters. The MES has played a key role in the elections for mayor and former municipal councils of the city and town of Belagavi since the 1950s. In the last council, the MES won over 60% of the seats. His influence over voters had forced other parties to abandon their symbols and encourage their candidates to run as independents. MES is a one-agenda party that has called for the merger of Marathi-speaking towns and villages in all border districts from Belagavi to Bidar, Maharashtra.

MES leaders Prakash Margale and Shubham Shelke, who spoke at a press conference in Belagavi on Sunday, argued that MES will continue their winning streak.

“We have not suffered any disadvantage with the increase in the number of rooms,” said Margale. “We will win over 45 of the 58 seats,” he said. Mr Margale dismissed reports that the rise of the BJP and heightened awareness among young people had led to a reduction in the influence of the MES on the city’s voters. “Far from it, we are witnessing unprecedented youth support for the Marathi cause,” he said.

Mr. Shelke said that the influence of MES is already visible. “Everyone knows we are winning. We are already seeing strong candidates from national parties looking for our ticket. There is no way our activists will go to Congress or the BJP to look for a ticket, ” he said. Mr Shelke, a young Marathi activist, had managed to get more than a lakh of votes in his fight against BJP’s Mangala Angadi in the Belagavi Lok Sabha polls.

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