Express News Service

MUMBAI:  Shiv Sena’s victory in the Dadra and Nagar Haveli Lok Sabha by-election is largely due to its pro-Marathi campaign.

Kalaben Delkar, widow of Mohan Delkar who was a seven-time MP from the constituency, won the bypoll by 51,269 votes against BJP’s Maheshbai Gavit.

Kalaben got 59.53% votes against Gavit’s 33%. Mohan Delkar committed suicide earlier this year reportedly because he was upset with the local administration. 

Dadra Nagar Haveli was a Portuguese-controlled region like Goa and was liberated in 1954 as it merged with India. 

“In its liberation, Maharashtrian leaders such as Sudhir Phadke, Vishnupant More and Nana Kajarekar played a major role. Many Marathis migrated here later in search of work. It is an extended part of Maharashtra even though it keeps a separate identity. Gujarat is also close to us. So, both Maharashtra and Gujarat cultures have an influence over it,” says Virendra Solanki, a local analyst.

Sanjay Singh, a political observer, says Shiv Sena had contested Lok Sabha elections from Dadra Nagar Haveli four times since 1992 to 2019, but failed all attempts.

In 1996, its candidate Uttam Patel lost the election by a slender margin against Mohan Delkar.

“It was a victory for the Shiv Sena candidate, but at the last moment, Mohan Delkar emerged a winner. Now, history has repeated itself — Mohan Delkar’s widow Kalaben has won the election,” says Singh.

“Shiv Sena should credit the Delkar family for its victory.”

“The Delkars are well known. Kalaben drew sympathy, besides there was a huge anger against the UT administrator Praful Patel. Contractors from outside got the work at the cost of locals. It was a sort of referendum on Patel. Delkar’s victory margin of over 51,000 votes is the highest,” says Singh.

Solanki says most people of Dadra and Nagar Haveli are tribal and so is the Delkar family.

“You cannot do politics there by sidelining the family. Mohan Delkar had severely criticised the administrator. That’s why many BJP workers voted for his widow out of sympathy,” Solanki says.