“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nearly succeeded in retaining its strength in Vidarbha in the recently held Assembly elections mainly on the basis of the service projects and developmental activities run by the party workers”, said State BJP President Shri Nitin Gadkari.
“Expanding mass base by carrying out service projects and developmental activities will only pay rich dividends to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)”, Shri Gadkari surmised.
In an exclusive interview to Organiser, Shri Gadakari remarked that the division of anti-incumbency votes was responsible for the fractured mandate in Maharashtra State Assembly elections. The BJP has maintained its track record of last elections by winning 19 seats in Vidarbha region. Its ally Shiv Sena bagged 8 seats taking the total tally to 27-one less than Congress-NCP’s 28. However, the BJP-SS combine drew blank in Yavatmal and Amravati districts. It may be noted that Yavatmal district has recorded the highest number of farmers’ suicides during the recent past, and continues to do so even today.
The BJP has done exceptionally well in Nagpur district by bagging four out of six seats in Nagpur urban and two in Nagpur rural. The Party has also fared well in Eastern Vidarbha as compared to Western districts though it got one seat less than 2004 elections. In Nagpur North, the stronghold of State Textiles Minister Satish Chaturvedi, BJP’s Krishna Khopde won by a thumping margin of 35,000 votes. Khopde created a record by snatching this seat from the Congress Party.
Another BJP candidate and a new entrant Vijay Ghodmare defeated NCP’s Ramesh Bang, another minister by a narrow margin of 679 votes. The BJP-SS also performed well in Eastern Vidarbha districts of Bhandara, Gondia and Chandrapur. In Western Vidarbha, Buldana district was the one to give a helping hand to BJP-SS combine.
“The bad performance in Western Vidarbha was due to rebellion in the party”, Shri Gadkari said. Revolt against the official party nominees was the most common phenomenon in this elections and that was witnessed on a massive scale this time. “No party was untouched by this internal challenge. The rebellion within the Congress and NCP was more as compared to the BJP. But that small number also damaged the election results which otherwise could have gone in our favour in Vidarbha and other regions of Maharashtra”, asserted Gadkari.
The BJP also suffered a setback in North Maharashtra where the party had held 12 seats and now got only four. In the Marathwada region the BJP had to bite the dust, mainly due to division of anti-Congress votes and MNS factor.
Both the ruling Congress-NCP combine and the Opposition polled 34.5 per cent votes in this election. But the Opposition vote was divided amongst BJP-Shiv Sena combine, Independents and Republican-led Third Front. “Maximum number of independents got elected in this election disturbing the unity of anti-Congress votes in the State”, the State BJP President averred during the course of the interview.
“The Opposition was also not united and there was large number of rebels who disturbed the apple cart of many a winnable candidate”, Gadkari said adding that the division in Opposition votes propelled the Congress-NCP to power for the third time in succession.
The emergence of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) of Raj Thackeray in the State has adversely affected the Opposition poll prospects, he confessed. “They (MNS) gave us a severe jolt during the Lok Sabha elections and also succeeded this time in damaging our prospects at the Assembly polls too, Gadkari said. The MNS had made serious inroads in many of the constituencies in the State though they had won only 13 seats. They caused the defeat of BJP-SS candidates by a very narrow margin in a number of Assembly constituencies in Mumbai-Thane belt and Marathwada region.”
The State BJP President, who is known as a ‘Whirlwind of development’ for his development-oriented activities, mainly roads, in the State during his tenure as PWD Minister, said that the election results could be because of the inability of the Opposition to perform in the State legislature to the expectations of the people during the past decade. The Opposition might have failed to highlight the failures of the government in checking farmers’ suicides, power shortage and other issues. That’s why the Opposition could not muster enough votes utilising the anti-incumbency factor, he added.
Shri Gadkari opined that there was a need to study why the people had voted once again in favour of the Congress-NCP combine in districts like Yavatmal where maximum farmers committed suicides and people were subjected to long-hour power cuts. “The Opposition parties should give a thought to this mood of the electorate in the State”, he said.
He further said that the BJP was committed to the all-round development of the State. Accepting the defeat, he said that the Party would carry out its role of an alert and vigilant Opposition. We will not shy away from our responsibility as an effective Opposition and will cooperate with the government on issues of development. However, we will continue to raise the issues related to farmers’ suicides, power shortage, unemployment, skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, and corruption, he said.