In Vidarbha, 2 Union ministers in Phase 1

In Vidarbha, 2 Union ministers in Phase 1

Two Union ministers of the BJP, Nitin Gadkari and Hansraj Ahir, and Congress leader Nana Patole, who was the first lawmaker to rebel against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are in the fray in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra. 

Seven constituencies of the Vidarbha region — Nagpur, Wardha, Ramtek, Bhandara-Gondiya, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Chandrapur and Yavatmal-Washim — will go to polls on April 11. 

The last date to file nominations was Monday. 

Gadkari, the sitting MP and Union minister for road transport and highways, shipping and water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, as well as one of the key BJP trouble-shooters, takes on Patole in Nagpur. In December 2017, Patole had resigned from the BJP and his seat, Bhandara-Gondiya, citing 14 reasons, including the increasing number of farmer suicides, demonetisation and GST. 

When Gadkari filed the nomination papers, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other senior leaders accompanied him. “I am overwhelmed by the response from ordinary Nagpur citizens and party workers,” Gadkari said in his brief comments later.

In Chandrapur, the second important seat in the region, Ahir, the Minister of State for home, will contest against Suresh Dhanorkar of the Congress. The Congress high command had to replace Vinayak Bagade and field Dhanorkar after state Congress chief Ashok Chavan expressed displeasure over the choice of the candidate against his wishes. 

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, all the seven seats were won by the BJP-Sena alliance — five by BJP and two by Shiv Sena.