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Lok Sabha polls 2024: In the city of Black Gold, two sitting MLAs fight it out 

A lot of action is taking place in Chandrapur in the Vidarbha region - where veteran BJP leader and six-time MLA Sudhir Mungantiwar (61), the state’s Forests and Cultural Affairs Minister, is pitted against Pratibha Dhanorkar (38) of the Congress.
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 21:32 IST
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 21:32 IST

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Chandrapur: In this City of Black Gold dating back to the Stone Age, which is named after the moon and is famous for its tigers, two sitting MLAs will fight it out for the Lok Sabha elections.

A lot of action is taking place in Chandrapur in the Vidarbha region - where veteran BJP leader and six-time MLA Sudhir Mungantiwar (61), the state’s Forests and Cultural Affairs Minister, is pitted against Pratibha Dhanorkar (38) of the Congress.

This is the only seat in Vidarbha region comprising 10 Lok Sabha seats, where two sitting MLAs are engaged in a BJP vs Congress electoral fight - and is one of the high-stakes constituencies in the state.

For Congress, the seat is very important as it was the only seat the grand old party won from Maharashtra in the 2019 elections, when Dhanorkar’s husband late Suresh Dhanorkar defeated four-time MP and former central minister Hansraj Ahir, who is now the Chairman of National Commission of Backward Classes.

The BJP plans to regain the seat - and this was evident when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the first poll rally in the state in Chandrapur.

“It is a battle for prestige,” said Jayesh Tiwari, a resident of Chandrapur. 

A powerful orator, Sudhir Bhau, as he is popularly known, is a three-term MLA from Chandrapur and after the delimitation when the seat got reserved, he successfully won from the neighbouring Ballarpur constituency three times.

On the other hand, Pratibha Tai is a first-term MLA and winning the seat would be a tribute to Balu Bhau, her late husband, who passed away in 2023.

Among the senior most BJP leaders of Maharashtra, the highly-educated and efficient Mungantiwar was reluctant to contest, however, the party high command persuaded him and tasked him with bringing back Chandrapur in BJP’s fold.

Leader of the Opposition in Assembly, Vijay Wadettiwar was keen that his daughter Shivani, general secretary of Maharashtra Pradesh Youth Congress, gets the ticket from Chandrapur but the mantle to defend the sole seat of the grand old party fell on Pratibha.

The seat is very important as Chandrapur is the birthplace of RSS chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat. 

“While Sudhir Bhau is from the Komti community, the Dhanorkar are Kunbis. Caste factor would be play a part. Besides, Chandrapur has a huge North Indian Hindi-speaking community, Telugus and Bengalis,” a political analyst said.

“I don't view it as a Pratibha Dhanorkar versus Sudhir Mungantiwar fight. It's a fight between democracy and dictatorship,” Pratibha claims in her rallies and points out that the constituency has been neglected for long. 

“People have faith in Modi’s leadership. They have seen the transformation. A lot of change is happening and there will be rapid development in the days to come,” says Mungantiwar.

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Published 17 April 2024, 21:32 IST

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