Unlike other parts of the State, the saffron colour is conspicuous by its absence in Kalwan with flags and posters of only two political parties visible. The contest in Kalwan in Nashik district is not between Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combines. Instead, it is a fight between the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM) and the NCP.In 2014, J.P. Gavit of the CPM won the Assembly elections beating a senior leader Arjun Pawar of the NCP by a slender margin of 4,700 votes. “The real fight here is between the CPM and the NCP. The Shiv Sena candidate is practically on the side of the NCP candidate,” Mr. Gavit said. After the demise of Arjun Pawar two years ago, the NCP has fielded his son Rohit for the upcoming elections. “In the last five years Mr. Gavit has been unable to address the issues of the region,” Rohit Pawar said. Mr. Gavit however has criticised the NCP for putting up a candidate against him despite an alliance with it in the State. “NCP as a party has been very devious. First they announce the alliance and then they field a candidate against me, a sitting MLA,” he said.On the ground, people feel that the election would be a close contest. “Each has their sphere of influence, while Mr. Pawar has a hold on Kalwan, Mr. Gavit has his base in Surgana. Mr. Pawar’s father’s goodwill will help him as well. But the margins will be very narrow,” said Devanang Chavan, who teaches in a college in Kalwan. Anil Gangurde, a daily wage farm labourer, said among the key issues is the daily wage rate which has dropped in recent months. “Earlier I used to get around ₹400 per day, now it is around ₹300,” he said.Mr. Chavan said that connectivity and roads were also major issues in the region as both Kalwan and Surgana talukas grapple with a lack of transport options. The constituency, with around 2.41 lakh votes, is reserved for scheduled tribes (ST) as the majority population living in both talukas belong to tribal communities. Mr. Gavit said a big fear among the residents was the State government’s plan to divert water from west flowing rivers to areas in the east like Marathwada. “If any Adivasi is affected due to this project, it will never see the light of day,” he said.
Dealing with his extradition case in UK courts over an alleged 9000 crore rupee fraud with Indian banks, Vijay Mallya put up a brave face by taking to twitter to compliment RCB batting giant Chris Gayle over his T20 record.Many are left confused if the man accused of fleeing India and speaking so freely from UK is still anyway connected to the Virat Kohli led IPL side.Yes and No. Here’s how. Vijay Mallya last February resigned as chairman and non-executive director of Royal Challengers Sports Private Limited (RCSPL) who run RCB. RCSPL is a fully owned subsidiary of United Spirits, which in turn is part of Diageo, a UK-based business group.Since his resignation last year, Mallya has lost all control over franchise operations. However as per the agreement between Mallya and United Spirits Limited, he has been awarded with the honarary title of ‘Founder Emeritus – USL to recognise his historic connection with the company. And although the agreement says ‘this title carries no authority, responsibility, rights or benefits within the Company or its group’, the members of the board have been left with the option to consult Mallya if they wish.But given Mallya’s arrest earlier in the day by the Scotland Yard before being granted bail, does the honarary title for Mallya discomfort United Spirits with its reputation at stake?The company preferred to adopt a ‘no comments to offer on the matter’ policy when India Today put forward a query. But company sources do confirm off record that the option to consult Mallya has never been exercised and the fallen from grace businessman no longer has any role to play in any operations.advertisementThe agreement has made provision to create space for Vijay Mallya’s son Sidhartha as a director for two years or such time RCB remains a part of USL group. Company sources say Sidhartha is there as he is a separate entity.Industry sources however say Mallya may loose his honarary post eventually with RCB’s stake sale rumours doing the rounds for a long time. With those like the Jindals waiting in the wings and existing Pune and Gujarat franchise in last of their two year stint still interested to stay in the IPL mix, there are still quite a few interested parties, should the promoters agree to sell RCB stakes.