Maharashtra’s political titans lock horns

Five Lok Sabha seats in Phase 1 include Chandrapur, Bhandara-Gondiya, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Ramtek, and Nagpur…reports Asian Lite News

Polling is underway in five parliamentary seats in Maharashtra in the first phase of polling, in which as many as 95.54 lakh registered voters will decide the fate of 97 candidates.

Maharashtra, the second-largest state after Uttar Pradesh (80), which contributes 48 seats in 543-member Lok Sabha, will witness a fierce contest between the two major state coalitions – the Mahayuti (Bharatiya Janata Party, Shiv Sena, and Nationalist Congress Party) and the Maha Vikas Aghadi (Congress, Shiv Sena (UBT), and NCP (SP)).

Five Lok Sabha seats include Chandrapur, Bhandara-Gondiya, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Ramtek, and Nagpur.

However, Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA has also fielded some candidates, making it a three-cornered fight on some seats.

Among these voters, there are 48.28 lakh males, 47.26 lakh females, and 347 transgender persons.

To facilitate the electoral process, the ECI has established 10,652 polling stations, each equipped with 21,527 ballot units, 13,963 control units, and 14,755 VVPAT machines.

Nagpur will see the contest between senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari and Vikas Thakre, who is currently the Nagpur West MLA.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Nitin Gadkari registered victory with a massive vote share of 55.7 per cent. He defeated the current Maharashtra Congress President, Nana Patole, with a victory margin of 2,16,009 votes. Gadkari also defeated Congress leader Vilas Muttemwar by a margin of 2,84,828 votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Chandrapur in Maharashtra was the only seat, out of the total 48 in the state, that Congress managed to win. But this time, the fight may not be easy for it as the BJP is sparing no effort to win back the constituency and fielded a state minister from there.

From the Congress’s side, Pratibha Dhanorkar, the wife of Suresh alias Balu Dhanorkar who died last year, is in the fray, while the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has given a chance to Sudhir Mungantiwar, who is the Minister of Forests, Cultural Affairs in the state.

An intriguing three-way contest is on the cards in Maharashtra’s Ramtek (reserved for SC), which goes to polls on Friday.

Ramtek is the only seat being contested by Shinde-led Sena in the first phase of general elections on April 19.

Congress, a constituent of Maha Vikas Aghadi, has fielded Shyamkumar Dault Barve from Ramtek.

With the Returning Officer of Ramtek constituency declaring the nomination of Congress candidate Rashmi Barve as invalid, her husband Shyamkumar Barve became the official candidate of Congress.

Now, the contest between Congress’s Shyamkumar Barve and Shinde-led Shiv Sena’s candidate Raju Parwe has become a litmus test for Shinde-led Sena.

In Gadchiroli-Chimur, the largest Lok Sabha constituency in terms of area in Maharashtra and with a huge region affected by Naxal violence, the Congress party has fielded Namdeo Dasaram Kirsan against Ashok Mahadeorao Nete of the BJP. Nete is the sitting Member of Parliament (MP), who won Lok Sabha polls from the same constituency two consecutive times in 2014 and 2019.

Marotrao Kovase of the Congress defeated Nete in the Lok Sabha elections of 2009. But Nete had won the state Assembly elections from Gadchiroli seat twice, in 1999 and 2004.

After 25 years, the Congress has fielded a candidate, Prashant Padole, in the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha constituency in the eastern Vidarbha region. The BJP has fielded sitting MP Sunil Mendhe from the seat.

In the last 25 years, the Congress always played the role of an alliance partner, leaving the Bhandara-Gondia constituency to the undivided NCP led by Sharad Pawar, with senior leader and former Union minister Praful Patel becoming the face of the Congress-NCP in Bhandara-Gondia.

Meanwhile, the MahaYuti partners on Thursday expressed confidence that the alliance will win more than 45 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, asserting that the performance of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led state government will bring success.

MahaYuti leaders comprising Maharashtra Cabinet ministers Hasan Mushrif, Ravindra Chavan and Aditi Tatkare, and several legislators had gathered at the time of filing of nomination by NCP nominee Sunil Tatkare from Raigad constituency where he is pitted against Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate and former Union minister Anant Geete. The polling is slated for May 7.

Tatkare said that the Lok Sabha elections will strengthen the country’s ranking in the world, especially when a slew of development projects are being done under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“MahaYuti will win more than 45 seats in Maharashtra,” he added.

“After getting elected, I will work as an MP of MahaYuti for the next five years. Various schemes of the Central government have been pending for many years to be implemented in Raigad seat. I am committed to complete the long-pending works and new projects after the grand coalition comes to power for the third time in the country under the leadership of Narendra Modi,” said Tatkare.

He declared that he would win by a bigger margin than the 2019 elections.

Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats, the second-largest after Uttar Pradesh. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 23 out of 25 seats it contested in alliance with the undivided Shiv Sena. Elections to the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra will be held in five phases on April 19, April 26, May 7, May 13, and May 20. (ANI)

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