The rebel Congress legislator Nana Patole has decided to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Bhandara-Gondia constituency as an independent. Patole looks all set to take on the NCP stalwart and civil aviation minister Praful Patel on his home turf. Patole had resigned as a member of the state assembly over what termed as raw deal to the backward region on every aspects by Congress-led government.
Patole, who met his supporters in Bhandara and Gondia on Tuesday and Wednesday, said that if the Congress denies him a ticket, he would contest the elections as a candidate of OBC Sangram Parishad, an organisation floated by him to fight for the cause of backward communities.
Patole, a stormy petrel of the region, won from Sakoli Assembly constituency in 2004 state elections. He is a known bete-noire of Praful Patel, who dominates the political scenario of both the districts, for years.
Patole’s supporters feel that Patel had marginalised the Congress organisation in both the districts with the help of his money power and maneuvering politics. If someone fails to come out against the one-manship of Patel, the Congress would not be nowhere in coming days, they pointed out and said that that’s why Patole has decided to contest the elections against the nominee of Patel, in the ensuing elections.
Praful Patel’s wife Varsha is likely to be NCP candidate from the constituency in the coming elections. Posters and banners of Varsha Patel are visible everywhere in the constituency and just a formality to announce her candidature is awaited.
Patole announcement of his entering the poll fray has shaken the Patel camp. If Patole contests, it would be a major setback for Patel, who lost twice from the constituency, and was compelled to reach the parliament through Rajya Sabha. Patole, a strong OBC leader, would eat into sizeable votes that could be diverted to the NCP-Congress candidate.
On the other hand, neither the BJP nor the NCP-Congress combine has announced its candidate from the constituency. When the factionalism was in its peak in NCP-Congress camp, it is also not all well in the BJP. The senior party stalwart and the sitting Lok Sabha member, Mahadeorao Shivankar, whose earlier constituency, Chimur-Gadchiroli has now reserved for ST, is now seeking the party nomination from Bhandara-Gondia, depriving the present member Shishupal Patle.
Patle, an aggressive BJP youth leader, asserted that if he was denied a ticket, he would contest the elections as an Independent.