With the country headed into the second phase of elections, 95 seats across 12 states are in the poll fray. The Solapur seat in Maharashtra is witnessing a three-cornered fight with Congress veteran Sushil Kumar Shinde contesting against president of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) Prakash Ambedkar (BR Ambedkar's grandson) and Jaisiddeshwar Swami pontiff of the Gaudegaon math in Solapur's Akkalkot is BJP's candidate in the constituency.
As the polling began on Thursday morning, Sushil Kumar Shinde went to cast his vote in his constituency. While speaking to media after exercising his right to vote, Shinde said that he has seen many elections in his life and is confident.
"No matter how many cornered fight becomes in Solapur, I am not new, I have seen three-cornered, four-cornered, five-cornered etc in my life. This fight is nothing new for me. Solapur is a secular constituency and all my constituencies have always been secular. I have fought many elections here, assembly as well as Lok Sabha. There is no barrier of caste or religion in Solapur. Only one backlash I received was in 2014 but voters are telling me they will not commit their mistake again. No one votes on the basis of caste and the caste or religion of the candidates are also not taken into account."
He further went on to say that the BJP has replaced its old candidate and fielded another candidate from the constituency because they are scared. He also alleged that the sitting BJP MP has not done anything for the people of the constituency and hence the party replaced him out of fear."
Like other regions in Marathwada, Solapur too faces water woes for drinking and irrigation purposes. This time, Congress is looking to cash on to that discontentment whereas Lingayats are an important voting block in Solapur and presence of Jaisiddheshwar Mahaswami is likely to help BJP substantially . Prakash Ambedkar is a heavyweight in the area and is also supported by Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Musalmeen (AIMIM).
Shinde, who had earlier announced Lok Sabha elections 2019 is the last elections he is contesting was defeated by BJP's Sharad Bansode in 2014 general election. Shinde had represented the constituency for three terms in the past.