Sending shockwaves across political parties in Navi Mumbai, the BJP has chosen Manda Mhatre as the BJP’s candidate from Belapur constituency. Even before Maharashtra has gone into elections, Manda Mhatre has become a giant-killer yet again. She earned the tagline the first time when she defeated Ganesh Naik in Belapur constituency in the assembly polls of 2014.
For the last 5 years, the Belapur constituency continued to witness political races between Ganesh Naik, Vijay Nahata and Manda Mhatre. Many expected the battle for Belapur to be between the then NCP Supremo of Navi Mumbai Ganesh Naik and either one of the duo – Shiv Sena’s Vijay Nahata and BJP’s Manda Mhatre whoever would be the BJP Shiv Sena alliance candidate from Belapur. However, all dynamics changed with the entry of the Naiks in BJP. Their entry made the Vijay Nahata camp upbeat who believed that with Airoli going to BJP’s Sandeep Naik, the Shiv Sena will contest from Belapur. However, as talks on alliance started to close; it became clear that BJP would fight from both Airoli and Belapur constituencies. Red faced Nahata camp in Shiv Sena met at the party headoffice at Vashi and 200 party workers resigned in protest that Shiv Sena handed over both Belapur and Airoli constituencies to BJP.
As soon as it became clear that BJP would fight both Airoli and Belapur constituencies, the Naik camp started vouching that Ganesh Naik would contest from Belapur and Sandeep Naik from Airoli. This was backed by Ganesh Naik’s aggressive campaigning in Belapur constituency under “Dada Apla Bhetila”. By Monday evening on September 30, the Naik camp was making calls to media offices informing of his candidature from Belapur while the Manda Mhatre camp was confident that they will be the fighting the polls from Belapur. By noon of October 1, the BJP made its first list of candidates public and as Manda Mhatre’s name figured on the list from Belapur constituency, political shockwaves went across party lines in Navi Mumbai. Manda Mhatre had triumphed over both the Naik and Nahata camps to win candidature from Belapur.
It reminded one of the words of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, which seems to have become prophetic when in an event organized by Manda Mhatre, he had asked her increase the pages of her work report ahead of the next elections.
WHAT NEXT FOR MANDA MHATRE?
The results of Maharashtra Assembly polls 2019 is not hard to predict. The BJP and Shiv Sena is all set to come back with a thumping majority going by the trends. And from Belapur, it was a foregone conclusion that the race is only for the ticket and whoever wins the candidature will win the elections. In such a scenario, Manda Mhatre’s victory from Belapur constituency is inevitable.
WHAT NEXT FOR GANESH NAIK?
No one knows what is next for Ganesh Naik. He quit the NCP to join the BJP on the eve of assembly polls. And he mortgaged 55 of his corporators with the BJP more like a surety of getting candidature from Belapur. But looks like their game-plan misfired and now Ganesh Naik stands to not even contest the Maharashtra assembly polls as an official candidate from a political party though him contesting as an independent candidate cannot be ruled out.
WHAT NEXT FOR VIJAY NAHATA?
Sources reveal that a highly upset Vijay Nahata may contest the assembly polls as an independent candidate. Vijay Nahata was extensively campaigning in Belapur for the last two years and he was confident of being the Shiv Sena candidate from Belapur. This was endorsed by Yuva Sena President Aditya Thackeray but The manner in which Shiv Sena surrendered the constituency to BJP, has left Vijay Nahata on crossroads on what to do next. If he does build courage to contest as an independent candidate, his fate will be decided by the course of the elections’ outcome.
BJP PROVES IT IS A PARTY WITH A DIFFERENCE
Sources reveal that while Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was rooting for Ganesh Naik to contest from Belapur, it was the Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired meeting in Delhi to finalize the names of candidates where Ganesh Naik’s name was cancelled for reasons still unknown and Manda Mhatre was handpicked to run from Belapur for a consecutive term. Though sources placed in Delhi say that the overnight set back to Ganesh Naik has some role played by his former guru and NCP President Sharad Pawar, who still shares warm relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi beyond their public political rivalries.