In many seats, VBA dents Cong-NCP influence

MNS ‘help’ makes no difference; Ashok Chava, Sushilkumar Shind among losers

Not securing an alliance with the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) is likely to cost the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) dearly in several seats in Maharashtra. The two parties were counting on the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena to give them a boost but party chief Raj Thackeray’s magic did not work either.

After Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh chief Prakash Ambedkar joined hands with All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) to form the VBA ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the VBA was in talks with the Congress-NCP to form an alliance. However, the talks fell through, following which the VBA decided to contest all 48 seats independently in Maharashtra.

Early trends showed the VBA has made a large dent in the traditional non-Bharatiya Janata Party vote bank in Maharashtra consisting of Dalits and Muslims, votes that could otherwise have gone to the Congress.

In Amravati, VBA candidate Gunwant Deopare polled 64,516 votes at the time of going to press, a 5.86% vote share. The contest was a close one between Anandrao Adsul (Shiv Sena) and Navneet Rana (Independent), with the latter winning by 36,446 votes.

In Buldhana, even though the main contest was between Prataprao Jadhav (Shiv Sena) and Rajendra Shingne (NCP), where Mr. Jadhav won by 1,33,287 votes, VBA’s Siraskar Baliram Bhagwan clocked 1,65,988 votes, a 15.33% vote share.

Similarly, in Chandrapur, Rajendra Mahadole (VBA) polled 79,840 votes, a share of 9.25%. Suresh Dhanorkar (Congress) was leading by a slim margin of 44,763 votes against Hansraj Ahir (BJP).

In Gadchiroli-Chimur, Rameshkumar Gajbe (VBA) polled 1,11,468 votes, a total of 9.75%. Ashok Nete (BJP) won by 77,526 votes against Congress’s Namdeo Usendi.

In Hatkanangale, Aslam Sayyad (VBA) polled 1,16,115 votes or 9.72%. Here, Dhairyasheel Mane (Shiv Sena) won by 96,039 votes against Raju Shetti (Swabhimani Paksha).

In Madha, Vijay More (VBA) polled 50,867 votes or 4.24%. Ranjeet Naik Nimbalkar (BJP) won by 85,764 votes against Sanjay Shinde (NCP).

In Nanded, VBA candidate Yashpal Bhinge polled 1,61,910 votes (14.76%). This was a close contest where the BJP’s Prataprao Chikhlikar defeated Ashok Chavan (Congress) by 40,148 votes.

In Parbhani, VBA candidate Alamgir Mohammed Khan polled 1,48,880 votes (11.99%). This contest was between Sanjay Jadhav (Shiv Sena) who defeated Rajesh Vitekar (NCP) by 42,199 votes.

In Sangli, Sanjay Patil (BJP) defeated Vishal Patil (Swabhimani Paksha) by a margin of 1,64,352 votes. But VBA candidate Gopichand Padalkar came a close third with 2,92,732 or 25.16% of votes.

In Solapur, VBA founder Prakash Ambedkar himself came a distant third with 1,67,621 votes or 15.71%. The main contest here was between veteran Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde and Siddheshwar Maharaj (BJP) with the latter winning by 1,58,608 votes.

In Yavatmal-Washim, Pravin Pawar (VBA) polled 82,960 votes or around 7.81%. Here, the Shiv Sena’s Bhavana Gawli won by 1,17,939 votes against Manikrao Thakre (Congress).

AIMIM’s Imtiaz Jaleel (who contested on AIMIM ticket and not VBA) emerged victorious in Aurangabad by a slender margin of 4,492 votes against Chandrakant Khaire (Shiv Sena).

Even though the MNS did not contest the polls, Mr. Thackeray held 10 rallies in the State in support of the Congress-NCP alliance.

In all these places UPA candidates, including bigwigs like Ashok Chavan (Nanded), Sushilkumar Shinde (Solapur), Sameer Bhujbal (Nashik), Milind Deora (Mumbai South), Parth Pawar (Maval), lost. The BJP had earlier declared the MNS as ‘inconsequential’.

Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant, commenting on the VBA, said party had “taken ‘supari’ (a contract) from the BJP and done a ‘fidayeen’ attack on us.” While the effect of this was yet to be seen, in seats like Nanded and Solapur, “they have definitely dented us. They were BJP’s B team,” he said. Asked about the MNS, Mr. Sawant said, “It appears people had decided to give the BJP absolute power.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Thackeray’s reaction to the election results on Twitter was a pithy, “Beyond rationale.”

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