Not a full bloom for lotus in Vidarbha, setback due to non-fulfilment of promise of separate Vidarbha state

Nagpur: Although the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has succeeded to retain power, the voters put a brake to its winning streak that it was riding since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Skipping the Vidarbha statehood issue might have led it to pay the price in this election as the party had been raising the issue for quite long. Having won the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the Assembly elections of 2014, where it emerged as the single largest party with 122 seats, the party leaders were in an upbeat mood and making tall claims of even a bigger victory in this assembly elections.

The old allies, BJP and the Shiv Sena, for the first time had contested the 2014 elections independently. This time, however, they forged the alliance but could not impress the voters as was expected. The BJP had roped in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president and Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Aditya Nath for the campaigning, who addressed several rallies in the region to woo voters. 

Surprisingly, Nagpur MP and Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari, an iconic leader of the party in the region was not seen very active though he campaigned for the candidates. Overall in the state, BJP suffered losses in a number of seats this time compared to 2014 polls. The same trend was witnessed in Vidarbha region. Last time of the 63 seats, BJP won 45 seats and Shiv Sena 3. This time although having an alliance, the lotus could bloom only in 28 seats of the 50 seats it had contested. On the other hand, the Sena slightly improved its tally from three of 2014 to four this time.

In 2014 polls, when BJP had bagged all the six seats in Nagpur city, this time it had to get contended with four seats, losing two seats – both to the Congress candidate.The most surprising defeat for the BJP was from the Nagpur-West constituency. The seat was held by the party for the last over two decades. Nagpur-West and BJP were synonyms to each other prevailing for over 20 years. However, breaking the trend, Vikas Thakre of Congress won the seat with a slender margin of 6,367 votes defeating his rival Sudhakarrao Deshmukh of BJP.

Deshmukh, a two-time MLA from the constituency, was in the fray for the third consecutive time.The contest in North Nagpur was between seating BJP MLA Milind Mane and Nitin Raut of Congress. Both had contested the election against each other in the same constituency in 2014. This time however, the tide turned in favour of Dr Raut. Reacting to his victory, Dr Raut said the people of Maharashtra have rejected the BJP-Sena alliance. Regarding the functioning of EVM, Raut said, the Congress workers had been guarding the strong room 24x7, where the EVMs were kept after the voting. Also, the strong room was monitored by CCTV cameras.

Hence it was ensured that nobody tampered with the EVM and the result is in front of you, he remarked.The BJP managed to retain the rest of the four seats from the city including the prestigious South-Nagpur where Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis contested against Ashish Deshmukh of Congress. It retained the other three seats of the city viz East Nagpur, Central Nagpur and South Nagpur where Krishna Khopde, Vikas Kumbhare and Mohan Mate emerged victorious respectively. All eyes were on the Kamptee assembly constituency in Nagpur district. Three-time MLA and Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule, who was representing the seat was denied the ticket by BJP top bosses. The BJP fielded Tekchand Sawarkar from the seat. Since then, questions were raised over BJP’s prospects. Throughout the day, it seemed that the decision to deny ticket to Bawankule would cost dear to BJP as Sawarkar was trailing since the beginning of the counting. However, at the end Sawarkar defeated his Congress rival Suresh Bhoyar by 7,256 votes.

In Chandrapur, the constituency reserved for Scheduled Caste candidate, Kishor Jorgewar, an independent candidate defeated Nana Shyamkule of Bharatiya Janata Party. According to reports, Jorgewar had sought ticket from BJP and on denial, he contested as an independent candidate. The Warora assembly seat in Chandrapur district was earlier represented by Shiv Sena’s Suresh Dhanorkar. However, during the Lok Sabha elections, Dhanorkar quit Shiv Sena, joined Congress and got elected as a MP on Congress ticket defeating BJP stalwart, a four-time MP and Union Minister of State Hansraj Ahir. In Assembly seat, the Congress fielded Dhanorkar’s wife Pratibha against BJP’s Sanjay Deotale, the former minister. Here too Pratibha won the seat and now both the husband and wife are representing the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies respectively.Another BJP stalwart and State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar was re-elected from the Ballarpur Assembly constituency in Chandrapur district.

Congress stalwart Vijay Wadettiwar emerged victorious from Bramhapuri constituency in Chandrapur district defeating Sandip Gaddamwar of Shiv Sena by 18,549 votes.Sanjay Gaikwad of Shiv Sena defeated Vijay Shinde of Bahujan Vanchit Aaghadi by 26,075 votes in Buldhana. The seat was earlier represented by Harshavardhan Sapkal of Congress.In yet another interesting contest, Nana Patole of Congress,who was defeated by Nitin Gadkari in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Nagpur constituency, won from Sakoli assembly seat in Bhandara district. Patole defeated Parinay Fuke of BJP, a minister and also a close confident of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. BJP had to taste another defeat in Gondia where Vinod Agrawal an independent defeated BJP’s Gopaldas Agrawal by 27,169 votes.

Just before the elections Gopaldas Agrawal quit Congress and had joined the BJP in presence of CM Fadnavis. Another independent candidate Ravi Rana emerged victorious from Badnera seat in Amravati defeating Priti Bandof Shiv Sena. Rana’s wife Navneet Rana – actress turned politician emerged victorious from the Amravati Lok Sabha seat in 2019 as an independent.Yashomati Thakur, a Congress MLA from Tiwasa constituency in Amravati district succeeded to retain her seato once again. In Vidarbha region, though BJP emerged as the number one party, it could not repeat its previous performance. While Congress could bag 17 seats, NCP won on seven seats in the region.

Total seats in Vidarbha: 62

Party wise performance

BJP                               28

Shiv Sena                     04

Congress                     17

NCP                              06

Ind / Others                 07 

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