Nagpur: Elections to Maharashtra Legislative Council from the Graduates` constituency of Nagpur division slated to be held on June 20, will witness a close triangular contest among BJP`s Anil Sole, Congress` Babanrao Taiwade and BSP-backed Independent candidate Kishore Gajbhiye.
This prestigious seat was held by former BJP national president and now Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Gadkari, who had been representing the seat since 1989, resigned after his election as MP from Nagpur Lok Sabha constituency last fortnight though his term was due to expire on July 19.
The BJP has now fielded Professor Anil Sole who is the incumbent City Mayor in BJP-ruled Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC).
While the Congress has given ticket to Babanrao Taiwade, a local college principal, who is trying his luck for the second time after being defeated (by Gadkari) in previous 2008 polls.
The third strong candidate is Kishore Gajbhiye, a former IAS officer who was Divisional Commissioner, Nashik and also Commissioner for Tribal Development there.
The BSP has decided to extend its support to Gajbhiye, who is hugely banking on Dalit votes.
Meanwhile, as the polls near, Gadkari is leaving no stone unturned while canvassing for Sole. On Sunday, he addressed a gathering of intellectuals along with builders and big wigs of institutions to drum up support for his party candidate from this seat, where upper caste voters have a firm grip.
Taiwade, a trusted lieutenant of MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre and Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan is banking on OBC votes particularly non-saffron ones.
He is the joint candidate of Congress, NCP, RPI (Gavai), CPI, National Republican Party, Dalit Panthers and Teacher-Worker Employees of Nagpur University.
Taiwade is a popular figure in varsity circles and heads various academic bodies in RST Nagpur University. Both Chavan and Thakre along with NCP chief Bhaskar Jadhav will be addressing a joint campaign meeting in the city this evening ahead of the polls, to boost the sagging morale of the partymen (DF constituents) after the recent Lok Sabha debacle.