By election in the Thane Belapur Lok Sabha constituency on 22 May are drawn, Shiv-Sena-BJP alliance candidate Anand Paranjpe is pitted against the NCP-Congress-RPI combine candidate Sanjeev Naik. Our weekend exclusive is a curtain raiser on the biggest battle that without any doubts will decide the fate of politics in Maharashtra in the next state assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Anant Paranjpe – Son of late Prakash Paranjpe who was elected MP from Thane Belapur constituency 4 times and whose demise has caused the by-election, has little political experience. But what he does have is a readymade loyal support of the mass base of the Shiv-Sena-BJP cadre in the 36 lakhs votes constituency. Sanjeev Naik, the 36-year-old son of the State Minister for Excise, Environment and Labour and Guardian Minister of the constituency Ganesh Naik is well poised to represent the 36-lakh voters of the constituency in New Delhi on the strength of his political experience since his days as a student leader, as first mayor of Navi Mumbai at the age of 23, then again as mayor for 2 more terms and then as lead campaigner for his father in the assembly poll and the NCP Party in the NMMC polls apart from the strong base of the NCP-Congress-RPI combine in all the assembly and Municipal constituency falling in the largest Lok-Sabha constituency of the state. Overall the election appears tilted in favour of Sanjeev Naik though the anti-incumbency factor; is something the saffron brigade will try taking advantage off. Hence the manifesto will matter less just like their ideology. However, party and leadership loyalty and hold is respective region will be swaying factors that may or may not induce voters to respond. And the hold could be in the pattern of the political parties that dominate the assembly constituencies that make the Thane Belapur Lok Sabha Constituency, which is like this : Eknath Shinde of Shiv Sena is MLA from Thane Harishchandra Patil of BJP is MLA from Kalyan Ganesh Naik of NCP is MLA from Belapur Gothiram Pawar of NCP is MLA from Murbad Kisan Kathore of NCP is MLA from Ambarnath Badoda of NCP is MLA from Shahapur constituency. Muzzaffar Husain of Congress is MLA from Mira-Bhayander and Pappu Kalani of RPI represent the and Ulhasnagar constituency. Thus it is advantage Sanjeev Naik undoubtedly. However with Vijay Chougule having crossed floors from Ganesh Naik in Navi Mumbai and surging rival function in the NCP in the form of Vasant Daukhare, Jeetendra Awhad and Gilbart Mendonca there are challenges that Sanjeev Naik faces. Though on face the faction leaders refuted the allegations. Undoubtedly the present by-poll is a trial run for the forthcoming general lok-sabha and Assembly elections next year. Hence prospective legislator in the region will toil for asserting their strength to stake claim for candidature. 24 legislators will be elected from Thane district alone under the new-delimitation of constituencies. Who will benefit and who will toil will unfold during the next fortnight in this keenly contested campaign.

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