In at least 10 of the total 62 Assembly segments in Vidarbha’s 10 Lok Sabha constituencies, the Congress-NCP has polled more votes than the BJP-Sena. In 2014 polls, when the saffron allies had won from all the 10 parliamentary seats, it had led in all the assembly segments. In the subsequent Assembly polls, however, the Congress had won 10 seats, while the NCP bagged one, Independents two and Shiv Sena four seats. The BJP had emerged winner in 44 seats.
Four of the 10 leads for the Opposition this time were in Chandrapur, where Congress candidate Suresh alias Balu Dhanorkar defeated BJP bigwig and Union Minister of State for Home, Hansraj Ahir, by a margin of 44,822 votes. Dhanorkar was the only Congress candidate to emerge victorious in the state.
Dhanorkar trailed Ahir in two — Arni and Wani — segments and led in Chandrapur, Ballarpur, Rajura and Warora constituencies.
Embarrassingly for the BJP, Dhanorkar’s biggest margin of 34,021 came from Ballarpur, a constituency represented by State Minister for Revenue and Forest Sudhir Mungantiwar. The political grapevine has it that Ahir and Mungantiwar do not get along.
In Nagpur, Congress nominee Nana Patole led Gadkari in the Dalit-dominated North Nagpur constituency by a slender margin of 8,910 votes. Last time, Gadkari had led here by over 18,000 votes. Gadkari polled 6,60,221 votes in all, while Patole got 4,44,212 votes. Gadkari won by a margin of 2,16,009 votes, which was less than his 2014 margin of 2,84,828.
In Gadchiroli, Congress candidate Namdeo Usendi got a lead of about 7,000 votes over BJP’s winner Ashok Nete in the Naxal-dominated Aheri segment. Here, Maoists had given a covert call not vote for the BJP. Nete, however, romped home by winning 5,19,968 votes, while Usendi won 4,42,442 votes. The victory margin was 77,526, down from 2,36,870 in 2014.
In Amravati, winner Navneet Rana, an Independent candidate, was leading in four Assembly segments, while sitting MP Anand Adsul of the Shiv Sena had a lead only in two — Badnera and Achalpur. With 5,10,947 votes, Rana defeated Adsul (4,73,996) by a margin of 37,951 votes.
The BJP-Sena combine continued to hold on to their 2014 lead in all other 52 Assembly segments.
The VBA factor
The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) led by Prakash Ambedkar made a dent in the Congress-NCP share in the two constituencies of Buldana and Gadchiroli.
In Gadchiroli, VBA’s Ramesh Gajbe polled a huge 1,17,468 votes, but BJP’s Ashok Nete won by a margin of 77,526 votes.
In Buldana, VBA candidate Baliram Shiraskar polled an impressive 1,72,627 votes. He dented the prospects of NCP’s Rajendra Shingne, who polled 3,88,690 votes against winner Pratap Jadhav of the Shiv Sena, who got 5,31,977. Shingne, who was earlier considered to put up a tough fight, lost by a margin of 1,33,287 votes.
BSP loses ground
The VBA surge in the region effectively marginalised the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the region. In 2014, the BSP was in the third position in all except Akola and Chandrapur constituencies. It dropped its votes from 48,981 to 9,587 in Yavatmal, 66,906 to 28,104 in Gadchiroli, 99,433 to 31,725 in Nagpur, 95,051 to 44,327 in Ramtek, 90,866 to 35,531 in Wardha, 98,200 to 11,989 in Amravati and 33,783 to 6,565 in Buldana.
In Bhandara-Gondia, the BSP slightly improved its tally from 50,958 in 2014 polls to 52,659 this time.
In Akola, Ambedkar’s Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh was the third, while in Chandrapur, AAP nominee Wamanrao Chatap had got 2,04,413 to bag the third spot in 2014.