Once Cong citadel and now BJP bastion, Akola witnessing triangular fight this time

Akola (Maharashtra), April 21 (IANS): A traditional Congress bastion-turned Bharatiya Janata Party stronghold which opened its arms for a top Dalit leader, Akola in Maharashtra will witness a strong fight among the three contenders in the Lok Sabha polls scheduled on April 26.

Since the 1952 Lok Sabha elections, Akola has elected the Congress at least nine times, including bye-elections, and the BJP seven times, while Prakash Y. Ambedkar, the grandson of the Chief Architect of Indian Constitution Dr B. R. Ambedkar, was elected twice -- marking a break from the electorate's preference between Congress-BJP.

After a consecutive four-term (from 2004-2019) stint by its senior ailing MP Sanjay S. Dhotre, a former Union minister, the BJP-MahaYuti has fielded his son Anup S. Dhotre who will grapple with Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi President Prakash Y. Ambedkar, and the MVA-INDIA’s Congress nominee Dr. Abhay K. Patil.

While BJP is expecting a continuity in change, Patil is relying on an anti-incumbency factor and despite a long ‘absence’ Ambedkar is hoping for a third embrace by Akola after his two consecutive wins in 1998-1999.

As in the past, the VBA (Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi) is trying hard to emerge as the ‘third factor’ in Maharashtra politics, but it has been dubbed as a ‘vote-splitter’, thus encountering more political animosity than electoral success.

Akola Lok Sabha seat has six assembly constituencies of which four are held by the BJP, and one each by the MVA allies, Congress and Shiv Sena (UBT).

They are: All from BJP, Akot (MLA Prakash G. Bharasakale), Akola East (MLA Randhir P. Savarkar), Akola West (vacant now, but represented by the late ex-minister Govardhan M. Sharma who died in November 2023) and Murtizapur-SC (MLA Harish M. Pimple); plus, Balapur (Shiv Sena-UBT MLA Nitin B. Deshmukh-Tale), and Risod (Congress’ MLA Ameet S. Zanak).

A former prominent MP from Akola was Vasant P. Sathe who is credited for initiating the process that kicked the prevalent black-and-white era of broadcasting out by introducing colour broadcasting to Indian television, ahead of the 1982 Asian Games and unveiled the first desi colour teleserial, the runaway hit ‘Hum Log’ (1984).

Of the current (2011 Census) population of 1.82 crore, the minorities (around 20 per cent) and Dalits (18 per cent) or a total of more than 39 per cent share, make political calculations tricky, though the veteran Ambedkar is pitted against two relative freshers -- Dhotre and Dr. Patil.

Akola is reputed for several imposing forts built many centuries ago by different dynasties, around a dozen rivers flow through it to irrigate the cotton and jowar fields of the predominantly agrarian economy here with a 60 per cent population living in the rural areas.




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Title: Once Cong citadel and now BJP bastion, Akola witnessing triangular fight this time

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