In CM's hometurf, BJP got the biggest jolt

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis waves at supporters during a roadshow for BJP candidates for Maharashtra Assembly elections. (PTI Photo)

The BJP has suffered a major setback in the central Indian region of Vidarbha as its numbers dipped significantly in the home turf of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

In the state's winter capital of Nagpur, that houses the headquarters of RSS, the party's performance has not been satisfactory.

Nagpur is hometown of Fadnavis and Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Vidarbha accounts for 62 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

Once a citadel of the Congress, the vast Vidarbha region— spread over two divisions of Nagpur and Amravati and 11 districts is under the control of the BJP for past over two decades.

If one makes a comparative analysis of 2014 and 2019, the BJP's numbers have come down from 44 to 29, a loss of 15 seats, while the Congress-NCP together has gained 11 seats, moving up from 11 to 22.

In fact, the NCP has moved from 1 to 7 seats now.

"There is a resentment among people. They feel let down by the BJP. Also,  this is the region of agrarian distress," a senior political analyst from Vidarbha said.

While lawyer-politician Fadnavis (49) won the Nagpur South West seat,  two ministers and one former minister lost the polls.

Fadnavis's victory margin has come down as he took on former BJP legislator and Congress candidate Ashish Deshmukh, the son of former state Congress chief Ranjit Deshmukh.

"Agrarian distress is a key issue. Farmers suicides have not stopped. Leaders (of the BJP) need to have their feet on the ground," said Kishor Tiwari, the founder of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, who switched over from the BJP to the Shiv Sena ahead of polls.

"If urgent steps are not taken and 'atma-chintan' is not done, the BJP will suffer badly in local bodies elections in the years ahead," he said.

Gadkari seems to have been sidelined and senior minister Chandrashekar Bawankule was denied a ticket from Kamptee.

Even state finance, planning and forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar,  a former state BJP president, is keeping a low profile.

The Congress had worked in the grassroots including leader of Opposition in outgoing Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar (Brahmapuri), state MPCC working president Nitin Raut (Nagpur North) and campaign committee chief Nana Patole (Sakoli)— all won the elections.

It may be recalled that Patole, a former BJP,  was first to revolt against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and had quit to join the Congress.

Patole had unsuccessfully contested the Nagpur Lok Sabha seat against Gadkari.

In Nagpur district,  that has 12 seats— six each in rural and urban areas,  the BJP's tally has come down from 11 to 6.

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