December 14, 2021 1:30:45 pm
BJP’s Chandrashekhar Bawankule on Tuesday won the Maharashtra Legislative Council election from Nagpur, beating Congress-backed independent candidate Mangesh Deshmukh by 176 votes. Bawankule got 362 votes and Deshmukh 186. Meanwhile, Ravindra alias Chotu Bhoyar, who was the official Congress candidate till the eve of the polls before the party decided to support the independent candidate, got just one vote.
The Nagpur council poll, held on December 10 (Friday), was filled with dramatic twists and turns from the nomination stage itself. After the BJP announced Bawankule, an OBC face from the Teli community as its candidate, Congress reckoned it was going to be a tough fight. Bawankule, the former power minister of Maharashtra, is perceived to be close to Union minister Nitin Gadkari.
Congress initially roped in Chottu Bhoyar, a former RSS-BJP corporator who had switched over to Congress ahead of the polls. However, close to the polls, Congress decided to support independent candidate Mangesh Deshmukh as it seemed to have nursed doubts about Bhoyar’s loyalty.
Meanwhile, the thumping win for Bawankule is a big boost to the BJP as the state leadership had decided to field him to woo the OBC voters. Former BJP minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said: “Bawankuke was a strong contender. The BJP was confident of his victory. Congress created a hype. But its strategy to first get Bhoyal in and later support an independent candidate backfired.”
Bawankuke, who is the general secretary in Maharashtra BJP, was earlier denied an assembly seat. Even the decision to field his wife in assembly polls was changed in the eleventh hour. This had upset the Teli community in the Vidarbha region and the impact was seen as the BJP lost six seats here in the last assembly election.
The party intends to project Bawankule as its OBC face in Maharashtra, especially in the Vidarbha region. After the Supreme Court stayed the OBC reservation in local body polls, the BJP state leadership has decided to exploit the development to its advantage by exposing the MVA government of Congress, the NCP and Shiv Sena coalition’s alleged failures.
“I express gratitude to the people and the leaders who reposed faith in me and gave me an opportunity to contest,” a jubilant Bawankule said.
The setback to Congress has exposed the cracks within the organisation. A senior minister said: “The state Congress president Nana Patole’s adventure failed. His aggressive politics without adequate consultation within the organisation has caused embarrassment to the party. Patole cannot bulldoze his decisions through.”
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