On the last day for filing nomination papers, sitting MP and Union minister Nitin Gadkari filed his nomination from Nagpur Lok Sabha seat, where polls will be held on April 11.
Gadkari, who had defeated Congress’s Vilas Muttemwar in the 2014 elections by a margin of 2.84 lakh votes, said he will win with a “bigger margin” this time. With Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in flank, Gadkari led a huge procession to the Collector’s office for filing papers.
Addressing the media in front of a hundred-strong group of supporters at Akashwani square, near the Collector’s office, Gadkari said he is sure that his developmental works will find resonance with the people in the election.
Fadnavis said Gadkari will register a “historic win” from Nagpur, while adding that the “BJP-Shiv Sena combine would win 45 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state”. Congress’s Nana Patole, who will take on Gadkari in Nagpur, also filed his nomination. Interestingly, Patole’s supporters waited for him at a nearby school as he came separately to the Collector’s office to file papers. Patole claimed that Nagpur seat was Congress bastion, and said he would defeat Gadkari comfortably.
Shiv Sena’s Krupal Tumane, the sitting MP from Ramtek (SC) seat, and his rival, former IAS officer Kishor Gajbhiye (Congress), also filed their nominations later in the day. At Chandrapur, current MP and Union minister Hansraj Ahir filled papers as BJP nominee. Last-minute Congress nominee, former Sena MLA Suresh Dhanorkar, also filled his papers from the seat. Congress’s Namdeo Usendi and current BJP MP Ashok Nete also filled papers for Gadchiroli seat.
Former minister Nana Panchbuddhe (NCP) also filed papers for Bhandara-Gondia seat in the presence of Praful Patel and Madhukar Kukde. There was a lot of drama over the party’s candidate from the constituency, when the NCP dropped incumbent MP Kukde to give ticket to Panchbuddhe late on Sunday night.
The BJP seems to be facing rebellion in Bhandara-Gondia, where party’s former MP Khushal Bopche filed nomination as an Independent candidate against Sunil Mendhe – BJP’s official nominee. Bopche, who belongs to the powerful and sizeable Powar community, was one of the ticket hopefuls from the BJP.
BJP leader Rajendra Patle, also a Powar, has also thrown in his hat in the ring. Sources said, the Patle and Bopche could affect the BJP’s prospects in the seat – while Bopche has a stronghold over the community, Patle has been active in the community over the past five years too.
Manikrao Thakre of the Congress and Bhavna Gawli of the Shiv Sena filled their papers for Yavatmal, while BJP’s Ramdas Tadas and Congress’s Charulata Tokas filed papers for Wardha seat.
Meanwhile, former MLA and Minister Anees Ahmed struck a discordant note and told the media that Muslims were “unhappy” with the Congress for nominating only one Muslim candidate, Hidayat Patel, from Akola seat. Ahmed said that “one particular caste” was being preferred, which may antagonise other castes, including the Dalits and tribals. Though Ahmed did not name any caste in particular, sources say, he was indicating the Maratha-Kunbi. In Vidarbha, almost all Congress candidates are Kunbis. The BJP too has given preference to the caste – it’s three non-Kunbi candidates are Gadkari, Hansraj Ahir (Chandrapur) and Ramdas Tadas (Wardha). Of them, only Tadas belongs to the numerically prominent Teli caste. While Gadkari is a Brahmin, Ahir belongs to the Gavli community.
(With PTI inputs)