AURANGABAD: Fissures in the vote bank of the Shiv Sena - BJP combine is clearly perceptible in the Aurangabad Lok Sabha constituency with the BJP supporters lukewarm over the candidature of Chandrakant Khaire, the sitting Shiv Sena Lok Sabha member from Aurangabad.

Aurangabad,the regional headquarters of Marathwada which was part of the erstwhile Hyderabad state of Nizam, had emerged as the stronghold of the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance since 1989, ending the Congress party’s dominance over this belt.

Khaire has won four Lok Sabha elections from this seat since 1999. He started from the municipal corporation level, became a member of the Aurangabad municipal corporation and then won two assembly elections from the city. He has not tasted defeat in the last two decades.

But this time the election is going to be tough for him. BJP sympathisers are blaming Khaire for the acute shortage of drinking water, with Aurangabad getting water once in a week. The garbage issue is also of major concern, with the city being referred to as “garbage city” in Maharashtra.This is because the municipal corporation under the Shiv Sena- BJP has failed in the disposable of garbage, leading to an angry response from the state Chief Minister who had threatened to dissolve the municipal corporation.

The third factor going against Khaire and the Shiv Sena is the lack of development. The city expanded and developed as an industrial town when Dr Rafiq Zakaria was the minister and represented the seat in the Maharashtra assembly for long.

Khaire is facing three strong candidates against him . They are : Subhash Zambad of the Congress-NCP combine, Imtiyaz Jaleel, journalist turned politician and the sitting MLA of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and the Shiv Sena rebel Harshvardhan Jadhav.

While Harshvardhan Jadhav,the sitting MLA from Kannad is the son in law of the Maharashtra BJP chief Raosaheb Danve,MP,he is seen as an arch rival of Khaire within the Shiv Sena. He has floated his own party - the Shiv Swarajya Paksha. He is a strong Maratha candidate who participated in the Maratha morchas for reservation. But his appeal has limitations.

Imtiyaz Jaleel is contesting from the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi led by Prakash Ambedkar and Asaduddin Owaisi. But many BJP sympathisers like him because of his modern outlook and developmental attitude.

And the third candidate Subhash Zambad,the sitting legislator is known for his “money power”.

Khaire's interference in the local politics,especially in Aurangabad municipal corporation and Zilla parishad annoyed the BJP and a section of the Sena. The BJP feels that he is the main hurdle in its revival in the district.

According to some local residents this election could see polarisation on caste and religious line. Khan versus Baan campaign would work in the last two days,they said. The elections will be closely fought, is the perception, with victory margins low.