Gadkari among 160 candidates in the fray in phase 1 of LS polls.
Mumbai: The first phase of polling that covers seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra will be held today. It will begin at 7am amid tight security and end at 6 pm. According to experts, what initially looked like a cakewalk for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance has turned into a close contest as the Congress-NCP combine is providing a tough challenge to the ruling alliance.
In the absence of any wave, factors like unrest among farmers and drought are going to play a crucial role in deciding the fate of candidates in Vidarbha. The Congress is also hoping that the ‘DMK’ (Dalit-Muslim-Kunabi) factor will work in its favour, as these communities are reportedly disillusioned with the BJP.
In the first phase of polling, the voting will be held in Wardha, Ramtek, Nagpur, Bhandara-Gondiya, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Chandrapur and Yavatmal-Washim constituencies. Out of these, Sena represents Ramtek and Yavatmal, whereas the BJP represents remaining five seats. There are total 160 candidates in the fray in seven constituencies.
Out of them, all eyes will be on the Nagpur seat, where Union minister Nitin Gadkari is fighting against Nana Patole, the former BJP MP who quit the party and now contesting as a Congress candidate.
It was interesting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who began his campaigning from Wardha, chose to attack the NCP rather than the Congress. According to political observers, Mr Modi’s speech had given indication that Congress is in ascendancy in Vidarbha.
In Chandrapur, the Congress has fielded Suresh Dhanorkar from Shiv Sena to take on another BJP minister Hansraj Ahir. According to sources, Mr Dhanorkar has a strong hold in the constituency and has campaigned strongly.
“The anti- incumbency factor would work against sitting Sena-BJP MPs in this election and the result would be shocking,” said Pramod Kakade, a senior journalist from Chandrapur.