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Lok Sabha elections 2019: BJP has an area of concern in Vidarbha

The 2019 election will be an acid test for Ahir, a highly regarded parliamentarian known for exposing the coal scam during the UPA regime.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 09, 2019 07:05 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra
Pradip Kumar Maitra
Hindustan Times, Chandrapur
Vidarbha,Lok Sabha elections 2019,Hansraj Ahir
For Union minister of state for home and four-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Hansraj Ahir in Chandrapur, this Lok Sabha election won’t be a cakewalk. (PTI File Photo)

For Union minister of state for home and four-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Hansraj Ahir in Chandrapur, this Lok Sabha election won’t be a cakewalk.

Ahir is pitted against Congress candidate and powerful Kunbi leader, Suresh Dhanorkar, who switched over from Shiv Sena just ahead of the filing of nominations.

The 2019 election will be an acid test for Ahir, a highly regarded parliamentarian known for exposing the coal scam during the UPA regime.

Local BJP leaders and Ahir were a bit shaken when Congress fielded Dhanorkar. Kunbis (similar to Marathas in western Maharashtra) have a sizeable population in Chandrapur constituency.

Dhanorkar’s candidacy was preceded by high drama in the Congress. The state Congress replaced its candidate Vinayak Bangade with Dhanorkar, causing a furore among party workers and exposed the glaring factionalism in the district unit. However, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s Friday rally quelled the groupism to a certain extent.

Former Maharashtra minister and senior Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar predicted a thumping win for Dhanorkar. He said the constituency has been a Congress bastion since the 1952 elections. The Congress has won here nine times and BJP four times. But Dhanorkar may not have it easy too. Some senior Congress leaders are unhappy with the nomination of a turncoat.

Former LS member and an influential district Congress leader Naresh Pugalia (a known bete noire of Wadettiwar) protested against Dhanorkar’s candidacy and boycotted Rahul’s rally along with his supporters. “A large chunk of Congressmen are unhappy over fielding Dhanorkar, who has a criminal record. The district authorities had issued an externment order against him for his illegal activities,” Pugalia said. However, Dhanorkar succeeded in obtaining a stay against the order.

Also in contention from the constituency is Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) candidate Rajendra Mahadole. The joint rally of AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi and Vanchit Aghadi leader Prakash Ambedkar last week hinted that Mahadole can spoil Dhanorkar’s chances.

Meanwhile, Ahir maintained that his victory is assured. “Our welfare measures for farmers would reap dividends in the elections,” he said and added, “The Swaminathan Commission recommendations were gathering dust under the UPA rule and BJP revived it. We increased the minimum support price for wheat, cotton, tur, soyabean and 17 other farm products. These measures will surely double farmers’ income by 2022.”

Dhanorkar said, “The BJP has been lying about doubling farmers’ income. This shows unhappiness among farmers in India,” he added.

Senior BJP leader from the district Tushar Shome said Dhanorkar is no match to Ahir as everyone knows about Dhanorkar’s activities, including running an illegal liquor business in a district where it is prohibited.

However, Dhanorkar refutes all allegations and claimed he would catch his opponents on the wrong foot, especially Ahir, who “owns two distilleries”, and a local RSS worker, who owns a bar. Dhanorkar claimed in his rallies that “hordes” of local BJP leaders own bars, but his rivals are only obsessed with his single-licenced shop. “I had four licenced liquor shops. Three were in Chandrapur, which were closed down after the ban. Only the one at Wani in Yavatmal is operational now,” he said.

First Published: Apr 09, 2019 07:05 IST

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