The BJP's sitting MP Pritam Munde and the NCP's Bajrang Sonawane might be up against each other in the Beed Lok Sabha seat, but on the ground, it is more a battle of one-upmanship between the district's guardian minister Pankaja Munde and her cousin and senior NCP leader Dhananjay Munde.
Dhananjay Munde, who is the leader of opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, and Pankaja Munde, Minister of Rural Development, Women and Child Welfare in the state government, have traded barbs over a host of governance issues, including alleged scams.
Pritam and Pankaja are daughters of late Gopinath Munde, former state deputy chief minister and Union minister, who had won from the seat in 2014 with a margin of 1.36 lakh votes against Suresh Dhas who was then with the NCP.
Gopinath Munde died in a car accident in New Delhi on June 3, 2014, barely days after he was sworn in as cabinet minister in the Narendra Modi government.
Pritam Munde swept the bypoll thereafter defeating the Congress' Ashokrao Patil by a whopping 6.96 lakh votes, the highest victory margin in the country's Lok Sabha poll history.
The BJP seems to have an edge in Beed, which will go to polls on April 18, as it holds five of the six Assembly segments that make up the parliamentary constituency.
These are Parli, Kaij, Ashti, Majalgaon and Georai,the sixth seat- Beed being held by the NCP's JayadattaKshirsagar.
This time around, Kshirsagar has thrown his weightbehind Pritam Munde.
On the other hand, Shiv Sangram, an NDA constituentheaded by Vinayak Mete, has declared support for Mr Sonawane. The Maratha and Vanjari communities, with roughly around five lakh voters each, hold sway in the constituency.
Muslims and Dalits number around three lakh and two lakh respectively.
Despite a tough fight on hand, the NCP believes Mr Sonawane will cause an upset when results are declared on May 23. Speaking on the issue, Mr Sonawane expressed confidence and cited the example of Gopinath Munde's victory in 2014 which was achieved despite all six Assembly seats there having NCP MLAs.
"So, the numbers are not an issue at all. Caste is also not an issue. This is a battle between the BJP and the people of Beed. And the people, particularly farmers, are with me. On May 23, I will be Beed's MP," an upbeat Mr Sonawane said.
Pritam Munde too appeared bullish about her victory,claiming that people will favour her over other candidates solely on the development plank.
She also played down Mete's decision to support Mr Sonawane. "It won't affect my poll prospects. The common man in Beed is pro-development. The response I have received (during campaign) is very good. I expect to win the election based on the work I did in the past four-and-half years," she said.
Pritam Munde said a victory would be a fitting tribute to herlate father. Beed Lok Sabha seat has a total of 19,57,132 voters,comprising 10,39,789 men and 9,17,343 women. Beed district, which is part of the state'sdrought-prone Marathwada region, comprises five sub-divisionsand 11 tehsils.