In 2014, its victory in 44 of the 62 Assembly seats in Vidarbha region had paved the BJP’s path to power. Five years later, the BJP has won only 29 seats, and the Shiv Sena has lost one of its four seats.
On the other hand, the Congress, which won 10 seats in 2014, has gained five more seats; the NCP, which won only one seat in 2014, has won seven; and the Independents’ tally has risen from two to seven.
This is a clear setback for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who hails from the region. Not only has Fadnavis failed to retain the lead in Vidarbha, but his own victory margin, in Nagpur South-West, dropped from 59,000 votes to less than 50,000, though the party was hoping to scale it up to over a lakh.
And in his home district of Nagpur, the BJP’s tally of 11 of the total 12 seats in 2014 fell to six.
While Congress leader Sunil Kedar retained Savner for the fourth consecutive term, the party wrested Nagpur West, which was Fadnavis’s constituency pre-delimitation, Nagpur North (SC) and Umred from the BJP, and the NCP wrested Katol.
# In Nagpur West, former Mayor and city Congress chief Vikas Thakre defeated BJP’s two-time MLA Sudhakar Kohale by 6,467 votes.
# Former minister Nitin Raut of the Congress defeated BJP’s Milind Mane in Nagpur North.
#Congress Raju Parwe defeated his cousin and BJP MLA Sudhir Parwe in Umred.
# In Katol, the NCP’s Anil Deshmukh defeated BJP’s Charansingh Thakur.
# Elsewhere in the region, BJP’s Minister of State Ambarish Atram was defeated by NCP leader and former Minister Dharmarao Baba Atram in Aheri constituency of Gadchiroli district.
# The BJP also lost the prestigious Chandrapur (city) seat, where State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar was leading the charge for party nominee, Nana Shamkule, who lost by over 70,000 votes. Mungantiwar, however, managed to retained his Ballarpur seat. The only other BJP candidate who won from Chandrapur district was Kirtikumar Bhangdiya, who retained the Chimur seat.
# BJP’s Agriculture Minister Anil Bonde was defeated by Devendra Bhuyar of the Swabhimani Paksha, which fought in alliance with Congress-NCP, in Morshi.
# Three-time MLA Gopal Agrawal, who left the Congress to join the BJP about a month ago, was defeated by BJP rebel Vinod Agrawal, who contested as an Independent, by a margin of over 25,000 votes.
# The Congress’s Leader of Opposition, Vijay Wadettiwar, retained his Bramgpuri seat in Chandrapur district, defeating Shiv Sena’s Sandip Gaddamwar by about 19,000 votes.
# The Congress’s Nana Patole defeated BJP’s Parinay Phukey in Sakoli, in Bhandara district.
Why was Nitin Gadkari sidelined, ask party leaders
The BJP’s dismal show in Vidarbha was seen by some party leaders as a fallout of the reported attempt to sideline senior leader and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.
“There is widespread discontent in the party against Gadkari’s marginalisation — from selection of candidates to the poll campaign. Being academically sharp doesn’t make one an expert in poll management. For that, you need someone like Gadkari, who understands state politics,” said a senior party worker close to Gadkari.
“This is the price you pay when you ignore party leaders like Gadkari and Eknath Khadse. We received calls from several leaders who lost by narrow margins, complaining that they could not get Gadkari for their rallies,” he said.
“Gadkari was given only one election rally, outside Vidarbha and Nilanga, where the party nominee won,” said another senior party worker.