Congress nominee and sitting MP Naresh Pugalia is aiming for a hat-trick in Chandrapur Lok Sabha constituency of Vidarbha region of Maharashtra while Hansraj Ahir of BJP has drawn strategies, including wooing tribals, to get an edge over his rival.
Lady luck failed to smile on Ahir during the last elections in 1999 as he was the only BJP nominee who had lost by a meagre 2837 votes to Pugalia. Ahir was a winner from mineral rich Chandrapur in 1996 when the saffron wave swept across the state but lost two consecutive polls.
Pugalia had defeated him in two subsequent elections --in 1998 and 1999. The victory margin in 1998 was 1,50,355 votes which drastically came down to less than three thousand in 1999. A mix of Telugu speaking people and Bangladeshi migrants accounted for two lakh voters including 55,000 Bangladeshi.
Though Congress and NCP have forged alliance in this year's poll, the Shetkari Sanghatana, that has sizeable voters in some pockets like Bhadrawati assembly segment, has extended support to the saffron combine.
Amendments in age old forest conservation act to pave way for industries and exploitation of rich mineral deposit, including good quality iron ore in Surjagarh in Gadchiroli district, were some of the priorities of Ahir.
Ahir is banking on tribal votes since BJP was hoping to swing it in their favour. As part of wooing them, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani had visited a tribal area in Aheri in mid-December for a function of local Gond king Raje Vishweshrao whose son Raje Satyawan has joined BJP.