Maharashtra Assembly polls: Stakes high for Narayan Rane, son in Sindhudurg

Stakes are high for senior Congress leader Narayan Rane, who is facing a resurgent Shiv Sena on his home turf in Maharashtra's Sindhudurg district, where he is contesting the Assembly polls along with his son Nitesh.

Kankavli (Maha): Stakes are high for senior Congress leader Narayan Rane, who is facing a resurgent Shiv Sena on his home turf in Maharashtra's Sindhudurg district, where he is contesting the Assembly polls along with his son Nitesh.

Rane's elder son Nilesh had lost the Lok Sabha election from Konkan's Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg seat in May this year and his close associates Ganpat Kadam, Subhash Bane, Rajan Teli and Ravindra Phatak have all deserted him to join Sena or BJP.

Differences with Rane have led former Minister of State for Urban Development and NCP legislator Uday Samant into Shiv Sena, who is their candidate from Ratnagiri seat.

Rane, whose chief ministerial ambitions are no secret, is seeking re-election from Kudal Assembly seat in Sindhudurg district which also comprises of Kankavli and Sawantwadi Assembly constituencies.

Rane's younger son Nitesh, who runs NGO Swabhiman and is not a primary member of the Congress, is contesting from Kankavli, which has caused some huffiness among local Congress workers, but there is no open protest against his nomination.

Observers here admit that the prestige of Rane, who is Congress' campaign committee chief, is at stake in the polls.

"Though both father and son may scrape through, the multi-cornered contest makes the poll results anybody's guess," they say.

Shiv Sena's Kudal candidate Vaibhav Naik, who had unsuccessfully contested against Rane in 2009, says things have changed since the last Assembly polls.

"People in Kudal have got confidence that Rane can be defeated. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Shiv Sena got a lead of 22,000 votes in Kudal Assembly segment," Naik said.

Several of Rane's supporters have deserted him. People also know that Rane's resignation from the government few months back and withdrawing it was "due to his selfish personal motives and not development of Sindhudurg," he alleged.

"My campaign is to tell people that despite being the guardian minister of the district, Rane had failed to develop Sindhudurg. He has not got a single project to the district to improve employment opportunities for the youth," he said.

Rane's son Nitesh is pitted against sitting BJP MLA Pramod Jathar who won in 2009 with a margin of just 34 votes.

Shiv Sena giving a ticket to Subhash Mayekar, former NCP leader, has not gone down well with staunch Sena supporters.

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