Maharashtra polls: Vidarbha votes for BJP, setback for Congress in cotton belt
Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, where separate statehood demand is a contentious issue, has overwhelmingly come out in support of BJP, which won 43 of the 62 seats while Congress suffered a setback.
Nagpur: Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, where separate statehood demand is a contentious issue, has overwhelmingly come out in support of BJP, which won 43 of the 62 seats while Congress suffered a setback.
Congress' tally dropped from 24 in 2009 to 10 seats. BJP, a strong votary of small states, seems to have struck a chord with voters in Vidarbha, a cotton-rich belt which has become infamous for farmer suicides-- an issue raised in this election also, as its bagged 43 seats against 19 in the last assembly poll.
Shiv Sena, which is in favour of a unified Maharashtra, held eight seats in the last three assembly elections but this time bagged only five.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena won one seat, making an entry in the region, and so has the NCP. With the end of the BJP-Shiv Sena and the Congress-NCP alliances, Vidarbha is open country for these parties.
A demand for a separate state of Vidarbha- which consists of 10 districts- has been around for decades. The region is rich in natural resources and has most of the forest cover of the state.
The Shiv Sena stood third or fourth in several seats with many of candidates even losing their deposits. Incidentally, the Shiv Sena has four MPs from the region.
Prominent losers from Congress include Deputy Speaker Vasant Purke from Ralegaon, Nitn Raut (Nagpur-North) Rajendra Shekhawat (Amravati), Anees Ahmad (Nagpur-Central), Satish Chaturvedi (Nagpur-South) and Rahul Thakre (Yavatmal).
Prominent winners include Devendra Fadnavis (Nagpur- South West), Sudhir Mungattiwar (Ballarpur) and Chainsukh Sancheti (Malkapur) - all of BJP.
In 1995, when BJP and Shiv Sena came to power for the first time in the state, they had won 22 and 11 seats respectively - their best tally.
In 2009, BJP contested 39 seats in Vidarbha and won in 19, while its then partner Shiv Sena fielded 23 candidates of which 8 emerged victorious. This time the two parties fought separately.
In 2009, Congress contested 48 out of the 62 seats and won 24.
The Nagpur-based family of Ranjeet Deshmukh, a two-time President of Maharashtra Congress, had a mixed poll result. His eldest son won on BJP ticket and while another son, who is in NCP, lost.
Ashish Deshmukh, who contested against his uncle and senior NCP leader Anil Deshmukh, won from Katol (Nagpur district) on BJP ticket. Anil Deshmukh, a former Minister, has represented the constituency for four terms.
Ashish's younger bother Amol, who joined NCP after being denied ticket by Congress, lost from Ramtek.