Nagpur/Gondia: The Lok Sabha poll in Bhandara-Gondia constituency will be held on April 11. A total of 17,91,692 voters will exercise their electoral franchise to election their choice of candidate. All political parties decide their candidates based on caste equation in the constituency.
Bahujan Samaj Party is the dark horse which could cause an upset or two and may spoil party of major candidates.
In the Bhandara-Gondia constituency, the number of Kunbi voters is maximum – 4,17,106 (23.85%), followed by Bouddha – 2,95,860, Teli – 2,76,061, Powar – 2,05,014, Gond – 1,10,650. Similarly, the vote strength of Adivasi, Gowari, Mana, Dhangar communities is over 50,000.
The clout of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is deep in Bouddha and Adivasi communities. Therefore, all eyes are on as to who will be the BSP candidate in this important seat. The State In-Charge Pramod Raina has been undertaking a tour of Gondia on the directives of BSP President Mayawati. He held discussions with office-bearers of four Assembly segments in the district and also held interviews with the interested candidates. Raina interacted with media persons and underlined party’s preparations for the poll.
Five candidates stake claim on BSP ticket:
Following the “Ekla chalo” policy, BSP has started selecting its candidates. In the March 12 meeting of office-bearers, Arun Gajbhiye, who lost Nagar Parishad election, and Lodhi Samaj leader Ramvilas Maskare not only joined BSP but also staked claim for Lok Sabha ticket. Similarly, a resident of Bhandara (Paoni) Dr Vijaya Thakre Nandurkar also applied for party ticket. Subhash Funde was also in the race.
But the strongest claimant, Lokesh (Kallu) Yadav, who is former Nagar Parishad Vice President and won Councillor election three times continuously, not only submitted a written application but also remitted entry fees for the nomination form.
According to sources, since the Bhandara-Gondia seat is reserved for general category candidate, hence BSP is likely to field either an OBC or General candidate. Possibility of this is very high. The list of probable candidates has been sent to Zonal Committee in Nagpur. Data of candidates will be sent to BSP headquarters in Lucknow and the party chief Mayawati will take the final call. The final candidate is likely to be selected by March 18.
Praful Patel has not forgotten the wounds inflicted by BSP in 2004:
Who can forget 2004 elections? At least Praful Patel certainly not!
Contesting on NCP ticket with Watch symbol, supported by Congress Hand, victory for Praful Patel was being considered a cake walk. More so because, BJP had fielded a ‘weakling’ in Shishupal Patle, a simple office-bearer in Tumsar APMC to take on the ‘mighty’ Praful Patel. However, BSP changed the equation drastically on the strength of Bouddha and Adivasi voters. The BSP candidate Ajablal Shastri, with his attacking speeches, changed the direction of the election. By bagging 90,672 votes, the BSP candidate pushed the stalwart leader like Praful Patel in the jaws of defeat. BJP’s Shishupal Patle got 2,77,388 votes while Praful Patel garnered 2,74,379 votes. Thus Praful Patel lost the prestigious poll by a margin of 3009 votes only. Praful Patel still grudges the defeat and the pain spills over on one occasion or another in public meetings or at other place. Now in 2019, when there is no support of the Elephant to the Hand, sword of defeat hangs again over the head of Praful Patel.
All eyes will be on who the BSP hands over party ticket in the crucial Bhandara-Gondia seat? BSP is always considered a dark horse in this constituency!