ALONGSIDE WINNING the Bhokar seat by 97,445 votes, former state chief minister Ashok Chavan also won a battle of prestige by ensuring that the Congress retains four out of nine Assembly seats in Nanded. The Shiv Sena, on the other hand, which had four MLAs in the district, was reduced to one.
Asked about Congress’ poor showing in comparison with that of ally NCP, Chavan conceded that there were problems in some areas with candidate selection, but said an exhaustive study of the party’s performance, including lacunae, would follow later.
On Congress candidates were demoralised by the absence of the Gandhi family from the election campaign, he said, “That is not true. Rahul Gandhi campaigned in Maharashtra and held rallies here.”
The BJP, which had strategised for months to ensure Chavan’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, had made the Bhokar seat a battle of prestige, with party president JP Nadda and others addressing rallies in the semi-rural constituency. Chavan, on the other hand, ran a low-key campaign with visits to villages and hamlets that had voted in favour of the BJP or Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi in the Lok Sabha election.
On his win, Chavan said BJP and Shiv Sena, who claimed they would win 220 seats have failed to live up to their expected performance. “I think the people have given them a fitting reply for non-delivery over the last five years on various issues ranging from farmer suicides to the economic slowdown and job losses. The election result has shown the real situation on the ground.”
Chavan defeated Bapusaheb Gorthekar, until recently the NCP’s Nanded district president who shifted to the BJP at the behest of Nanded MP Pratap Patil Chikhalikar. A former legislator from the Naigaon in 2004, Gorthekar lost in 2009 and 2014 from Naigaon. He polled 43,114 votes.