The suicide belt of Vidarbha in Maharashtra threw up some dramatic results.
The fight between President Pratibha Patil’s son, Rajendra Shekhawat, and Congress rebel and minister Sunil Deshmukh ended with Shekhawat winning in Amravati — a seat Deshmukh had represented for two terms.
Congress supporters burst firecrackers and celebrated at Shekhawat’s Amravati home.
“I was undermined by the media,” said Shekhawat. “I was sure of overwhelming support from the people. It is a victory for the party and my family’s nearly four-decade-long contribution to development in the region.”
The Deshmukh camp was gloomy. His loyalists switched off their mobile phones after the results. Deshmukh said, “It was totally unexpected.”
The Congress emerged the largest party in Vidarbha with 24 seats out of 62, up five from 2004. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) bagged four seats, down from 11 in 2004.
The Congress-NCP also performed well in Yavatmal district — the epicentre of farmer suicides in Vidarbha.
Bebitai Bais, a farm widow who was contesting from Wani, lost her deposit after polling only 1,983 votes. The Congress won the seat.
Kishore Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, which tracks farmers suicides, expressed disappointment over the Congress’s victory in the region.
“The Congress has contested this election with (the) ugly face of 7,234 farm suicides in Vidarbha since 2004 but (the) opposition was on the backfoot on taking advantage of voter unrest because of infighting among them,” said Tiwari.
The BJP lost three seats from its 2004 tally of 22. The Sena, which bagged 10 seats in 2004, won eight this time.
Its allies, however, swept Nagpur district, winning eight out of the 12 seats.
Three sitting ministers from Vidarbha — Deshmukh, Ramesh Bang and Anees Ahmed — lost their seats.