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Wardha
Press Trust of India, PTI
Wardha, April 17, 2004
First Published: 00:00 IST(17/4/2004)
Last Updated: 16:27 IST(17/4/2004)

Once represented by Congress stalwart Vasant Sathe, Wardha Lok Sabha constituency is all set to witness a straight fight between Congress nominee and BJP candidate for the April 20 polls.

Congress nominee and sitting MP Prabha Rau is pitted against Suresh Waghmare of BJP in Wardha. Rau had prevailed over Waghmare by a slender margin of 7,062 in previous election and the then newly-floated NCP candidate Datta Meghe had finished third.

BJP has dumped two of its winning candidates, Chunnilal Thakur (Bhandara) and Namdeorao Diwate (Chimur) in Vidarbha but has surprisingly retained Waghmare, a defeated candidate from Wardha for this year's election.

A six term MLA, Rau was a minister in Maharashtra cabinet for several years and President of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) and later elevated as Congress Working Committee (CWC) member, general secretary All India Congress Committee (AICC).

Banking on her rich experience in politics, Rau is on a whirlwind tour of her constituency and has covered entire area in first round.

Since Congress, NCP and Republicans have forged an pre-poll alliance, she is more confident this time. A veteran in the politics, Rau, who was an athlete said "Congress was instrumental in heralding Dhawal Kranti (white revolution) and Harit Kranti (green revolution) for the benefits of ryots in the country."

She also criticised BJP for the false assurance of providing one crore jobs to the unemployed youth.

"The Right Wing parties are befooling masses on Ram mandir issue and foreign origin issue of Sonia Gandhi," she said.

Though Rau had won last election with a slender margin in last elections, the Congress-NCP alliance this time will increase her winning margin.

A trusted lieutenant of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Datta Meghe after three successive Lok Sabha terms in 1991, 1996, 1998 lost to Rau in previous elections due to major split in Congress votes.

Meghe factor is very important in Wardha. He commands and leads sizeable workers, leaders in the district.

After an alliance between Congress-NCP for coming elections, Meghe who is campaigning for Rau said, there are more than 1.5 lakhs secular votes which in any case will go to Rau. Though Waghmare is from Teli community, Kunbi's are also powerful in the constituency and that will make a difference.

However, BSP will eat up some Dalit votes, Meghe admitted.


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