Has BJP's statehood call worked in Vidarbha?
The BJP's promise to grant statehood to the Vidarbha region appears to have wooed the electorate, with the saffron party leading in over 40 of the 62 seats in the region.
The Vidarbha region is key to success in the assembly elections, with the region electing 62 out of 288 legislators.
BJP state chief Devendra Fadnavis was leading in his Nagpur constituency. He is a possible candidate for chief minister.
BJP nominee Dr Milind Mane was leading former minister Nitin Raut in Nagpur North.
Ashish Deshmukh of the BJP was leading his uncle, NCP candidate and former minister Anil Deshmukh, in Katol.
During the Lok Sabha campaign this year, the BJP had promised to grant statehood to the eastern region of the state should it be elected to power. Union minister and Nagpur MP Nitin Gadkari was one of the prominent leaders who advocated the cause.
However, the party quelled the statehood pitch recently during the assembly polls campaign, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi making no mention of the statehood issue in any of his 15 rallies in the state. The promise was also left out of the party's manifesto.
Political experts felt that the BJP had fallen silent on the issue because other parties were strongly opposed to dividing Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena was among these parties, and given that the BJP may need the Sena's help to form the government it Maharashtra, it chose to be a 'silent supporter' for granting statehood to Vidarbha.