Chief minister Ashok Chavan on Monday suffered his first major political setback since assuming the reins of the state in December.
His confidant and official nominee of the ruling Congress, Anant Gharad, lost the Legislative Council by-election from the Nagpur local self-government constituency to a low-profile Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee, Ashok Mankar.
The by-election was necessitated by the previous member, Sagar Meghe, who was elected in 2003 on a BJP ticket, leaving the party last year.
He later joined the Congress along with his father Datta Meghe, a senior Vidarbha politician.
The father, who was a Sharad Pawar acolyte in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), had quit the party because of differences with the NCP chief’s nephew Ajit Pawar.
Now, the BJP has not only inflicted its first blow against the Chavan and the Congress but also demonstrated it continues to hold sway over the constituency.
In 2003, the BJP had nominated the younger Meghe, a political novice, for the seat and got him elected by defeating his rival, Congress stalwart Avinash Pande.