Bhandara-Gondiya LS seat: BJP to take on VBA, INDIA bloc as it eyes another run in Cong-NCP former bastion

Bhandara-Gondiya (Maharashtra), April 4 (IANS) Central India’s Bhandara-Gondiya constituency came into being after the delimitation exercise of 2008 and its first general elections were held in 2009.

Prior to delimitation, this region was a Congress bastion from 1951 onwards with its MPs being elected at least 12 times. BJP MPs were elected four times, the (undivided) NCP twice and the Janata Party and Praja Socialist Party got one term each.

For the forthcoming April 19 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP’s Sunil B Mendhe will wrestle with the INDIA bloc’s Congress nominee Dr Prashant Padole and Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s Sanjay D Kewat.

The BJP’s Mendhe is among the lucky few who has been re-nominated and is hoping for a repeat performance in Bhandara-Gondiya.

However, Mendhe could face rough weather as he is going up against the Congress and VBA candidates and both parties have considerable pockets of influence in the region. In fact, the VBA could be a potential vote-splitter.

In the 2019 general elections, Mendhe secured over 6.50 lakh votes, compared with the chief rival NCP’s Nana Panchbudhe bagging 4.52 lakh votes, and the BSP getting 52,000 votes.

Interestingly, in the 2018 bye-elections here, NCP’s Madhukarrao Y Kukde apparently got the blessings of the vote-splitters and he bagged over 4.42 lakh votes as against the BJP’s Hemant S Patle’s 3.94 lakh votes.

The VBA’s predecessor, the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh’s nominee got over 40,000 and two Independents secured over 17,000 votes between them.

As the new Bhandara-Gondiya constituency which went for its maiden Lok Sabha polls in 2009, the region elected the (undivided) NCP’s Praful M Patel, who was swept aside in the BJP-wave of 2014 and the BJP’s Nana F Patole was elected.

After Patole quit the BJP, the NCP’s Madhukarrao Y Kukde was elected in the bye-election in 2018, but in 2019 Mendhe trounced the NCP nominee Nana Panchbudhe to reclaim the seat for the BJP, and is now trying for a repeat run.

Over the years the Bhandara-Gondiya seat has elected stalwarts like ex-Union Minister Praful Patel -- who is now the Working President of the Ajit Pawar-led NCP -- thrice on a Congress ticket, besides the present Maharashtra Congress President, Nana F Patole, who won on a BJP ticket in 2014.

The Bhandara-Gondiya seat comprises six Assembly segments – three each in Bhandara and Gondia Districts - of which two each are with the BJP and Ajit Pawar’s NCP, one with the Congress and one with an Independent legislator.

They include Tumsar (NCP, MLA Raju M. Karemore), Arjuni-Morgaon (ST) (NCP, MLA Manohar Chandrikapure), Tirora (BJP, MLA Vijay Rahangdale), Gondia (BJP, Vinod Agarwal), Sakoli (Congress, state party President and MLA Nana F. Patole), and an Independent from Bhandara (SC), Narendra Bhondekar as MLA.

Bhandara is known as the ‘Brass City’ of India for its mammoth brass industry and the region is rich in minerals and mines.

There are at least three tiger sanctuaries here, and Maharashtra’s first Norgyaling Tibetan settlement came up here in 1972.

Similarly, Gondiya is renowned for the stone-era Kachargadh Caves that are over 25,000 years old, tiger reserves, lush green forests, lakes, dams, making it a favourite destination for jungle camping, trekking and mountain adventures.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected] )


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