Mumbai: Over a 100 relatives of various senior politicians, cutting across party lines, are in the fray for the October 21 Assembly elections in Maharashtra amidst hopes that they will be able to swing the votes in favour of their respective parties.
Among the prominent ones are the able kin of six former Chief Ministers, three Deputy Chief Ministers, several ministers and other leading politicians. In some cases, close relatives are even pitted against each other. The keith and kin hail from all parties -- the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance and the Opposition Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine -- in the battle for the 288 Assembly seats in the state.
Former state Congress chief Ranjit Deshmukh''s son Ashish Deshmukh, who quit the BJP to join the Congress, will be pitted against Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in the Nagpur South West seat. The two sons of late Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh are also in the fray -- Amit Deshmukh seeking re-election from Latur City while his younger brother Dhiraj is making his political debut from Latur Rural. Incidentally, their brother Riteish Deshmukh is an acclaimed actor and producer in Bollywood and Marathi cinema.
Then there is Congress''s Praniti Shinde, former Chief Minister and ex-Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde''s daughter, making a second bid from Solapur City Central.
Ashok Chavan -- himself a former Chief Minister and the son of ex-Chief Minister late S.B. Chavan -- is seeking re-election from Bhokar in his home district of Nanded. Ashok Chavan has also served as a former state Congress President till he was replaced in July this year by Balasaheb Thorat. Another former Chief Minister Shivajirao Nilangekar-Patil''s son, Ashok Nilangekar-Patil, will contest on a Congress ticket from the Nilanga seat in Latur. Ashok Nilangekar-Patil''s nephew (the ex-Cheif Minister''s grandson), Sambaji Nilangekar-Patil, a minister in the outgoing government and the son of former MP Rupatai Nilangekar-Patil, is contesting from Latur. NCP President and former Chief Minister Sharad Pawar''s nephew Ajit Pawar, himself a former Deputy Chief Minister, will contest from the family bastion of Baramati in Pune.
Ajit Pawar''s nephew Rohit Pawar (grand-nephew of Sharad Pawar) is contesting from Karjat-Jamkhed in the adjoining Ahmednagar district. Ajit Pawar''s son Parth had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Maval.
Former Shiv Sena Chief Minister and Maharashtra Swabhimani Party chief Narayan Rane''s son Nitesh -- who quit the Congress recently -- is seeking re-election on a BJP ticket from the family stronghold of Kankavali in Sindhudurg district. Another former Deputy Chief Minister, Chhagan Bhujbal, is contesting the Yeola seat in Nashik while his son Pankaj is seeking reelection from Nangaon in Pune district. In Parli in Beed district, the late former Deputy Chief Minister and Union Minister Gopinath Munde''s daughter Pankaja Munde is engaged in a direct fight with her cousin Dhananjay Munde. Pankaja, a minister, has been fielded by the BJP, while Dhananjay, the Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Council, is in the fray on a NCP ticket. The two have made it a family-cum-personal prestige issue. In Beed, an uncle-nephew fight is lined up with NCP''s Sandeep Kshirsagar contesting against his estranged uncle and former NCP leader Jaydutt Kshirsagar, who had joined the Shiv Sena and became a minister in the present government. Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who quit the Congress and as the Leader of Opposition a few months ago, will contest on a BJP ticket from his traditional seat of Shirdi in Ahmednagar district. Former state Congress President Prataprao Bhosale''s son Madan Bhosale is contesting on a BJP ticket from Wai, Satara, and Devyani Pharande, daughter-in-law of senior BJP leader N.S. Pharande, a former chairman of the Legislative Council, will contest from the Nashik Central constituency.
Akash Fundkar, the son of a former BJP Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, will contest from Khamgaon in Buldhana, while Ranajagjitsinh Patil, son of Sharad Pawar''s relative Padamsinh Patil, who quit the NCP to join the BJP, will conest from Tuljapur in Osmanabad. Former senior BJP leader and ex-minister Eknath Khadse''s daughter Rohini Khadse has been nominated from the Muktainagar seat in Jalgaon. Pained at being left out of the party list, Khadse was on the verge of a revolt, but after a last-minute change by the party, he was singing the BJP''s paens on Friday afternoon. Srinivas Wanaga, the son of late BJP MP Chintaman Wanaga, has been nominated by the Shiv Sena from Palghar (ST seat), where he will be pitted in a multi-cornered contest.