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Ashok Chavan faces tough test on home turf Nanded in ensuring BJP's victory

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Ashok Chavan faces tough test on home turf Nanded in ensuring BJP's victory

Mumbai, April 3 (IANS) Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who recently joined the BJP and was elected to the Rajya Sabha, faces an acid test on his home turf Nanded.

Although he is not a BJP nominee this time, Chavan must bank on his clout to ensure victory for the party candidate and sitting MP Pratap Chikhalikar.

This is because Nanded is expected to witness a multi-cornered contest with the entry of the Congress and the possibility of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) and the AIMIM also fielding their candidates.

The Congress has already announced former legislator Vasant Chavan as the party candidate from Nanded.

The BJP, however, hopes to retain the seat with Chavan on its side now.

The party is also confident that Chavan, who had lost the 2019 elections to Chikhalikar, will use all his skills to lure his traditional Congress vote bank in support of the BJP nominee.

After becoming a Rajya Sabha member, Chavan slowly but steadily launched an exercise to get his close associates and elected representatives into the BJP fold, and thereby consolidate his grip and the party’s presence in Nanded.

What has come to his aid is the election of RSS worker Ajit Gopchede from Nanded to the Rajya Saha. Gopchede can tap the RSS and BJP networks in addition to Chavan’s supporters from Congress to ensure Chikhaliakr’s victory.

However, a section of BJP workers feels that Chavan will have to quickly acclimatise to the BJP’s style of functioning, especially by building his rapport with the booth-level workers for an effective poll management plan.

Chavan will also have to woo the voters from the minority and backward classes so that Chikhaliakr’s margin increases.

Of the six Assembly seats under the Nanded Lok Sabha constituency, Nanded South and Deglur are held by the Congress, while the Bhokar seat fell vacant after Ashok Chavan resigned as the MLA.

On the other hand, Naigaon and Mukhed are represented by the BJP, while the Nanded North seat is held by the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena.

A close associate of Ashok Chavan said, “The real challenge here is to bring the voters to the polling stations, especially when they seem to be divided over the protests seeking Maratha and OBC reservations. Chavan along with the BJP and Shiv Sena will have to carefully approach the voters from these communities by assuring them that the state government and the Centre will protect their respective quotas.”

Further, Chavan and the BJP will also have to pay more attention to avoid a division of votes after the possible entry of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi.

In the 2014 elections in Nanded, Chavan weathered the Narendra Modi wave as he won by securing 4,93,075 votes against BJP’s Digambar Patil’s 4,11,620 votes.

Traditionally, Nanded has been a Congress bastion since 1952 as the party was represented by stalwarts like Shankarrao Chavan, Vyankatesh Terodekar, Ashok Chavan, and Bhaskarrao Khatgaonkar.

The opposition also held the Nanded seat — in 1997, when Peasants and Workers Party leader Keshavrao Dhondge won; in 1989 when Janata Dal nominee Vyankatesh Kabde secured victory; in 2004 when BJP nominee D.B. Patil won; and in 2019 when BJP candidate Pratap Chikhalikar emerged as the winner.

–IANS

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