The Thane Lok Sabha by-election on May 22, is heading to be a straight contest between the Shiv-Sena-BJP alliance candidate Anand Prakash Paranjpe and the NCP-Congress-RPI front candidate Sanjeev Ganesh Naik. Our weekend report tracks answers on whether NCP’s Sanjeev Naik is headed towards a record margin victory. Looks like in the Thane Lok Sabha by polls all the other 14 candidates are likely to forfeit their deposit in the 36,03,976 voters constituency. And topping the list would be Samajwadi Party candidate C R Shukla who is a resident of Ghatkopar compelling one to believe that the Samajwadi Party could not find an eligible candidate from the over 36 lakh voters in the constituency. Within the voters, the parameters of judging the candidates has been judged as Sanjeev Naik versus Anand Paranjpe – a battle of the ballot between secular and regional factions. Sanjeev Naik has inherited his father’s legendary role in preserving communal harmony upholding the principles of National integration in the region. Virtually the poll battle between Sanjeev Naik and Anand Paranjpe is one between national and regional, between performance and little experience, between secular and less secular, between the popular and lesser known, but nevertheless between two powerful rival parties in the state. NCP Chief Sharad Pawar has roped in the services of several ministers of the ranks of Praful Patel, R R Patil, Chagan Bhujbal, Arun Gujrati, Dilip Valse Patil, Vasant Daukhare, Manda Mahatre, Gothiram Pawar, Kisan Kathore and other to ensure Sanjeev Naik’s victory. On the other hand Uddhav Thackarey and Subhash Desai have been participating in road shows in the constituency in, which the road show at Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali and Ambarnath evoked good response and the party members are jubilant. In the last few days the campaign of the two main rivals has gathered momentum with leaders of respective parties addressing meetings and participating in road shows, in the vast constituency that includes six – assembly constituencies – Belapur, Kalyan, Ambarnath, Thane, Ulhasnagar and Murbad. The voters in the constituency are particularly upset that most of the development work promised by late MP Prakash Paranjpe could not be accomplished mostly because of his illness. A visit to the constituencies and reaction of voters shows that Sanjeev Naik who has a clear edge, is all set to upset the SS-BJP alliance supremacy in the 10th Lok Sabha constituency. Anand Paranjpe, though a new comer in active politics, will net over 6 lakh votes, with the SS-BJP alliance garnering about 50% votes from staunch Sainiks in Thane and Kalyan- Dombivali assembly constituencies with a comfortable edge in Ulhasnagar, Ambarnath and Murbad. The Vijay Chougule factor could also upset the voting numbers of NCP in Navi Mumbai. Sanjeev Naik could record the highest ever winning margin in the constituency of over 2 lakhs votes polling over 8 lakh votes. But there is also a possibility that the percentage of voting will be brought down due to the on going vacations and the voting day being a working day that might reduce the victory margin for Sanjeev Naik. The Thane Constituency, with an urban-rural ratio of 70-30%, needs a capable representative who can strongly negotiate the huge central and state funds for infrastructure development in the region rapidly developing into a global destination. Sanjeev Naik makes a perfect choice on this count. Sanjeev Naik made history in 1995 when he became mayor of Navi Mumbai at the age of 23. And now political analysts say that he is all set to create another record – that of winning the Thane Lok Sabha constituency with a record margin.
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