With the impending Lok Sabha elections on the horizon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is gearing up for his third visit to Maharashtra this year, a crucial battleground state. Modi is set to make a significant appearance in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) bastion of Satara, a stronghold never won by the BJP. Currently held by Shriniwas Patil, aligned with the Sharad Pawar faction of the NCP, Satara poses a formidable challenge for the ruling party.
Scheduled for February 19, Modi’s visit coincides with the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji, where he is expected to receive the prestigious Shiv Samman Puraskar. The event will feature Rajya Sabha MP Udayan Raje Bhosale, the 13th direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji, sharing the stage with the Prime Minister.
A senior BJP official revealed that the visit is strategically planned to “generate political impact” and provide an early advantage to the BJP candidate for the upcoming polls. There is speculation within the party about fielding Bhosale from Satara, considering him the “best candidate to take on the Opposition.”
However, if the NCP decides to nominate current Baramati MP Supriya Sule, Pawar’s daughter, from Satara, the BJP may reconsider its candidate choice. As of now, the NCP has not indicated any such move.
Bhosale, a three-time Satara MP who previously belonged to the NCP, switched allegiance to the BJP before the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections. Despite losing the October 2019 bypoll to Patil, the BJP sees Bhosale as a formidable candidate.
Modi’s frequent visits to Maharashtra in recent times highlight the BJP’s efforts to capitalize on his popularity and the development initiatives undertaken by the Eknath Shinde-led government since June 2022. The BJP aims to secure a significant number of seats, eyeing at least 45 from Maharashtra, the state with the second-highest number of parliamentary seats (48) after Uttar Pradesh (80).
While the BJP currently enjoys an advantageous position in Maharashtra due to successful splits within the Shiv Sena and NCP, party leaders express a hunger for more political gains. The state, historically characterized by shifting political dynamics, may spring surprises in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
Satara, a Congress stronghold until 1991, witnessed occasional shifts in power. The BJP currently holds one of the six Assembly segments in the constituency. As the political landscape in Maharashtra evolves, the upcoming visit and subsequent developments will be closely watched in the run-up to the crucial elections.