The ruling BJP suffered a major electoral setback in its citadel of Vidarbha and Nagpur in particular, where the saffron fountainhead RSS, is headquartered. In 2014 year elections, the BJP swept all the six Assembly seats in Nagpur city, whereas this time, two of BJP’s sitting MLAs lost the battle.
The chief minister Devendra Fadnavis won his fifth consecutive term from Nagpur South-West constituency. He defeated Congress nominee Ashish Deshmukh, a former BJP MLA from Katol constituency by a margin of around 49,500 votes. Fadnavis has been winning as a state Assembly member since 1999. He won from the Nagpur West constituency from 1999 to 2004 and from south-west Nagpur constituency from 2009 onwards.
Some senior BJP biggies lost the battle of votes from Vidarbha including Maharashtra minister of state for energy and tourism Madan Yerawar from Yavatmal, the cabinet minister, Anil Bonde (Morshi), former minister Rajkumar Badole (Arjuni-Moregaon in Bhandara district), former Maharashtra minister Ambarishrao Atram (Aheri), senior MLA Sudhakar Deshmukh (Nagpur West), seven-time MLA Chainsukh Sancheti (Malkapur) and former minister Sunil Deshmukh (Amravati).
Former Nagpur district guardian minister and former minister Nitin Raut upstaged sitting MLA Dr Milind Mane. The victory of Raut, who heads All India Congress Committee Scheduled Caste Cell, was foreseen, by-poll pundits. Likewise in Saoner, Congress’s Sunil Kedar brushed aside the challenge of BJP nominee Rajiv Potdar, who is BJP Nagpur district chief.
In Katol in Nagpur district, the former minister and NCP nominee Anil Deshmukh regained his seat defeating BJP nominee Charan Singh Thakur, a former chairman of Katol Municipality. In 2014, Anil Deshmukh had lost to his nephew Ashish Deshmukh (who was then in BJP and is the son of two-time former MPCC president Ranjeet Deshmukh).
The leader of the Opposition, Vijay Wadettiwar and the working president of PCC, Yashomati Thakur retained their seats, Bramhapuri and Tiwsa, respectively this time. On the other hand, senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra ministers, Shivajirao Moghe (Arni) and
Vasantrao Purke were defeated by their BJP rivals.
The fiery Congress leader and state Congress campaign committee chief, Nana Patole won from Sakoli Assembly constituency by defeating the Maharashtra minister of state for forest and tribal welfare and a sitting BJP MLC Parinay Fuke. In Gondia and Bhandara district where the BJP won nine seats in 2014 elections, got only one seat from Tiroda while a Shiv Sena rebel, Narendra Bhondekar (Bhandara) and the BJP rebel from Gondia, Vinod Agrawal won after defeating the official candidates.
In 2014, riding on the ‘Modi wave’, the BJP had emerged as a dominant force in Vidarbha by winning 44 of the 62 seats – the highest for the party from across different regions of Maharashtra. But the setback this time has seen the party reduced to 28 seats with major gains for the Congress (from 10 in 2014 to 17 this time) and NCP (from 1 to 6). The Shiv Sena maintained its tally of four this time too.
The Maharashtra minister for finance and the strongman from Chandrapur, Sudhir Mungantiwar won his traditional Ballarpur constituency by defeating the Congress nominee Vishwas Anandrao Zade by over 15,000 votes. The other top victorious political leaders include Bachhu Kadu (Independent) from Achalpur, Ravi Rana (Independent) from Badnera (Amravati).
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