Nagpur/Gondia: Eyebrows are being raised as to why the NCP stalwart Praful Patel retracted from contesting Lok Sabha election from Gondia-Bhandara constituency? Why the No.2 leader in NCP refused to be in the ring? The issue is talk of the town with speculations running wild over the exact reason.
The NCP leaders and workers are trying hard to convince the voters that one-and-half year still remains in the tenure of Praful Patel as Rajya Sabha member. That is why he has approved the name of Nana Panchbudhe as NCP nominee for Gondia-Bhandara Lok Sabha seat. On the other hand, while interacting with media persons on March 25, Praful Patel had lamented that despite a number of announcements in Delhi, Gondia-Bhandara has been deprived of development. “This time, people have made up their mind for a change. BJP has also come to know that defeat is lurking at their doorstep. All these factors will help our candidate Nana Panchbudhe in winning the seat. People in both the districts trust that Nana Panchbudhe will strive for development and solve burning problems being faced by the people in the region,” Patel asserted.
It may be recalled that Praful Patel had received drubbing at the hands of BJP’s Nana Patole with a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes in 2014 polls. It was being talked that the unity of Kunbi voters had led to defeat of Patel and for this very reason he has refused to contest this year’s election. Now, NCP has fielded Nana Panchbudhe, a member of Kunbi community.
Some experts feel that some of the alleged scams revealed during the tenure of Praful Patel as Civil Aviation Minister may have forced him not to contest Lok Sabha poll from Gondia-Bhandara seat. The alleged scams pertained to tenders floated for Biometrics Passenger Identification System for Air India flights.
Furthermore, a court in Ontario in Canada had found the Indian born businessman Nazir Kargir guilty of giving 100 million dollar bribe to Air India officials as well as Praful Patel. As the matter got revealed, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had set up a probe committee and started investigations into the transactions. Praful Patel could have developed cold feet over the expose and hence decided not to contest the election, they claimed.
All said and done, but soon after enforcement of Code of Conduct, Praful Patel had given enough hints of him fighting the Lok Sabha poll. But the sudden U-Turn by Patel could be bad omen for NCP and its chances of winning the seat.
Incidentally, the NCP supremo Sharad Pawar too had made a grand U-Turn after announcing to fight the Lok Sabha poll from Madha seat in Solapur district. But soon thereafter, Pawar said, “Since I have fought Lok Sabha elections 14 times, it is right time not to be in fray again. Our party is thinking of fielding Solapur Zilla Parishad President Sanjay Shinde.”