Nagpur: BJP stalwart and Union Minister for Transport, Shipping and Ganga Rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari his ministerial colleague MoS for Home Hansraj Ahir, former BJP MP and now a Congress nominee from Napur, Nana Patole, former Pradesh Congress president Manikrao Thakre, actor turned politician Navneet Rana are among the top contestants for the April 11 first phase polling for seven seats in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
These seven Lok Sabha constituencies include: Nagpur, Chandrapur, Wardha, Bhandara-Gondia, Yavatmal-Washim,
Gadchiroli-Chimur and Ramtek and polling of these constituencies will take tomorrow (Thursday).
Gadkari seeking second term is pitted against former BJP Bhandara MP Nana Patole who quit after taking head on with Prime Minister Narendra Modi midway and subsequently joined Congress and the party offered him ticket against sitting MP Gadkari. In Chandrapur MoS Hansraj Ahir is seeking one more term and is challenged by a former
Shiv Sena MLA Baba Dhanorkar who quit saffron party recently and fielded by party.
Sitting Wardha MP Ramdas Tadas is facing challenge from Mahila Congress president Charulata Rao Tokas. Modi had addressed his first election meeting in Wardha on April 1 in support of Tadas. Former President of MPCC Manikrao Thakre who was till recently Deputy Chairman of State Legislative Council is contesting from Yavatmal-Washim where Shiv Sena’s Bhawna Gawali is seeking one more term.
Actress turned politician Navneet Rama is trying for her maiden entry in Lok Sabha from reserved Constituency of Amravati
against Anandrao Adsul . A total of 116 candidates are in the fray in these seven seats in Vidarbha region, once a Congress bastion. Riding on the Narendra Modi wave last time, the BJP and Shiv Sena had swept all seats in Vidarbha Vidarbha region. Patole, than a BJP nominee from Gondia-Bhandara. in 2014 had defeated the NCP stalwart Praful Patel.
But his BJP love was short lived and after taking headon with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and quit party only to returned to Congress in December 2017.
Now in Bhandara-Gondia, BJP’s Sunil Mendhe faces NCP’s Nana Panchbuddhe. The Congress is supporting the NCP candidate. As in 2014, the Gadchiroli-Chimur constituency will see a contest between sitting MP and BJP candidate Ashok Nete and his Congress rival Dr Namdeo Usendi. Dr Usendi had won in 2009 but lost in 2014.
In neighbouring Chandrapur, the Union Minister of state for Home, Hansaraj Ahir of the BJP, is seeking a re-election. Dhanorkar who was a Sena MLA from Bhandrawati, resigned from the Shiv Sena as well as State Assembly.
A retired IAS officer Kishore Gajbhiye is fielded by Congress against sitting Shiv Sena MP Krupal Tumane who is seeking second term. Gajbhiye had earlier contested from Nagpur-North Assembly election and Graduate Constituency Assembly election, both on BSP ticket. He lost but however got more votes than sitting Congress MLA and Minister Nitin Raut in 2014 Assembly elections. He had joined now Congress and is in Manifesto Committee of AICC.