For the first time, the Shiv Sena, a regional party in neighbouring Maharashtra, has fielded a candidate for elections from Adilabad and Mudhole Assembly segments within Adilabad (ST) Lok Sabha seat. The party and its candidate Takbide Pandit Rao is hopeful of getting good support from Marathi speaking voters in both these constituencies.

Also, the Republican Party of India, another political outfit with strong regional presence in Maharashtra, has fielded Durgam Shyam Rao from Sirpur and Kamble Digambar from Mudhole Assembly constituency with an eye on its large Marathi speaking electorate. It remains to be seen as to what extent the plan of these parties succeeds as the record of the linguistically minority voters, who remained on this side of the border following demarcation of States on linguistic basis in 1956, suggests they have fully jelled with the Telugu speaking areas..

Marathi speaking voters in this district are concentrated in as many as 18 of the 52 mandals figuring within the boundaries of Mudhole, Boath, Adilabad, Asifabad, Sirpur segments of Adilabad Lok Sabha and Chennur of Peddapally (SC) Parliamentary constituency. These constituencies share their borders with Nanded, Yavatmal, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

There are also a few thousand of other linguistically minority voters based at the industrial centres like Kagaznagar, Adilabad and Mancherial towns. While Marwaris, Gujaratis, Biharis and others form a tiny chunk, the Bengali speaking voters of Sirpur constituency are about 8,000 strong.

“The Shiv Sena has a good following of Marathi voters even this side of the border. My campaign rests on their support,” hopes Pandit Rao, who has severed his 25-year-old association with the BJP to join Shiv Sena recently.

“The Shiv Sena certainly has a following, but voters in Mudhole constituency had never had the experience of voting on the question of language alone. They have always sided with parties who promised development in the region as is evident from the fact that this constituency has been represented by Telugu Desam Party and Telangana Rashtra Samiti too ,” observes senior TDP leader and advocate C. Shankar of Bhainsa in Mudhole constituency, as he dismisses the premise of grabbing votes based on language.