Tough battle ahead for Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli constituencies

With the candidacy of Thane and Kalyan-Dombivli Parliamentary constituencies declared by two leading political parties - Nationalist Congress Party and Shiv Sena the picture of the contest has become clear. The NCP has announced Sanjeev Naik for Thane and Vasant Dawkhare from Kalyan-Dombivli, while the Shiv Sena would be fielding Vijay Chowgule from Thane and Anand Paranjpe from Kalyan-Dombivli.

Sanjeev Naik, son of NCP minister Ganesh Naik, has had some experience in contesting Lok Sabha polls. He had contested the Thane parliamentary bypolls in May 2008 on a NCP ticket in which he was defeated by Sena's Paranjpe by a huge margin of 90,000 votes. On the other hand Vijay Chowgule is a novice as this would be his first election. Chowgule, a former strongman of Ganesh Naik, has a stronghold in Airoli of Navi Mumbai. In the bypolls Chowgule played a major role in ensuring the defeat of Sanjeev Naik.

As the Thane parliamentary constituency has urban areas of Thane, Navi Mumbai and Mira-Bhayander it would be an interesting contest between the friends turned foes. For Ganesh Naik it would be his personal prestige at stake in the elections contested by his son, while for Chowgule it would be personal vendetta. The outcome of the elections would also put to rest the debate on MLA Eknath Shinde's responsibility as the Sena's district chief. If Chowgule trounces his arch rival's son, then Shinde would be leading the Thane district for a long time to come.

The undivided (prior to delimitation) Thane parliamentary constituency has been a Shiv Sena bastion since 1996. Prakash Paranjpe, father of sitting MP Anand, has won four times from this constituency. So enamored was Sena chief Bal Thackeray with the victory of Paranjpe in 2004 Lok Sabha elections that in a public meeting he thanked the people by prostrating himself on the stage. Then the Parliamentary constituency boasted of a record 36 lakh voters. Now after delimitation the Thane parliamentary constituency boasts of 16 lakh voters. Sitting MP Paranjpe would be contesting from Kalyan-Dombivli another bastion of Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party. Paranjpe an engineer and industrialist by profession took to politics after the untimely death of his father in February 2008.

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