Imponderables aplenty in KulabaFROM PARAG RABADEDH NEWS SERVICE, ALIBAUG/PEN (M’RASHTRA):Veteran Congressman and former Maharashtra chief minister
A R Antulay
does not seeany rival to him from Kulaba constituency, and boasts that the two opponents, the PWPand Shiv Sena, are fighting for the second position in this election.“I have no rival here, that is very unfortunate,” Mr Antulay said. Such overconfidencecan prove costly for Mr Antulay, whose return to Kulaba at the instance of his bete noire NCP President
has added star value to the triangular contest. Mr Antulayhad won from this constituency in 1989, 1991 and 1996, but was trounced by his rivalPWP candidate in 1998.Even Mr Antulay’s rivals — PWP’s sitting MLA Vivek Patil and Shiv Sena’s sitting MLAShyam Sawant — are given to similar boasts and paint rosy picture for themselves. Butthe battle is certainly not easy for any contestant, notwithstanding their empty boasts andrhetoric.Mr Antulay was reluctant to contest this time, but it was Mr
who recommendedhis name to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and asked for his nomination, giving up NCP’s claim on the seat.Mr Antulay himself tells this incident to his voters, thus earning goodwill of both NCP aswell as Congress voters. It was Mr
who launched Mr Antulay's
, thusending their past rift.PWP’s Ramsheth Thakur, who won from here in 1998 and 1999, too was reluctant tocontest and the party chose Mr Vivek Patil, who is equally confident of victory.Kulaba constituency is spread over Raigad district and has six assembly segments.Located south of Mumbai, the proximity to the commercial capital of India has ensured presence of big industries such as Reliance, RCF, IPCL, Indian Organic Chemicals(IOC), HPCL and so on.Raigad district is famous for its beaches, but the region earned notoriety when the deadlyRDX that was used for Mumbai serial bombings by the Dawood gang in 1993 wassmuggled from its coastline.Since independence, two parties dominated the politics here — the Congress and theMarxist formation PWP, which stands for the Peasants and Workers Party. This regional block was used by Congress politicians such as Mr
and Mr Antulay to undercuteach other's presence in this district.The Congress politics ensured PWP’s growth, and out of 13 Lok Sabha polls held here,six were won by PWP including in the Indira wave of 1984, and seven times by theCongress. Now that the Congress is marginalised, NCP has consolidated its presence and the ShivSena has stepped in. Curiously, their common enemy is PWP, and to fight that enemy,these three parties have been joining hands with each other on many occasions.One example was that of the election of the president of Zilla Parishad in 2002. The PWPwas the largest party with 19 members, but other parties — NCP with 18 members, Senawith 16 members and Congress with 5 members ganged up against it to defeat PWPcandidate and instal a Sena member as the president.The defeat snowballed into a major political crises in Maharashtra, when PWP, which hasfive MLAs in the assembly, withdrew support for the Congress-NCP's Democratic Front(DF) government, bringing it on the brink of collapse. The then Chief Minister VilasraoDeshmukh literally begged to PWP boss Jayant Patil not to precipate the matter and thegovernment survived.