It’s Gavit vs Gavit for Nandurbar. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) set the cat among the pigeons by picking Dr Heena Gavit as its candidate from the constituency.
Dr Vijaykumar Gavit, father of Dr Heena Gavit. File pic
The 26-year-old is the daughter of state medical education minister Dr Vijaykumar Gavit from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Union minister of state for social justice Manikrao Gavit from Congress is the incumbent MP from the seat, who’s eyeing a consecutive ninth term.
Heena, an MBBS, is being perceived as a serious contender, thanks to her personal rapport with locals and the network developed by her father. BJP’s decision to nominate her late on Thursday was enough to send Congress-NCP into a tizzy. As soon as her name was announced, frantic calls were made by leaders from the coalition to her father.
Congress leaders from North Maharashtra district, that shares borders with Gujarat, are said to be particularly disconcerted, as Nandurbar has been the party’s bastion since decades. It has been a tradition for the Gandhi family to begin its election campaign from Nandurbar.
When probed, Dr Vijaykumar Gavit, who is engaged in a battle of political survival with his opponents from the local Congress unit, feigned ignorance about BJP’s decision to nominate his daughter. BJP state unit chief Devendra Fadnavis said the party was yet to decide on a candidate for Nandurbar.
Sources from NCP said the leaders were in shock. The party is believed to have sought a clarification from Dr Vijaykumar Gavit.The state unit of NCP is distressed, as any such decision may strain its tenuous ties with Congress further. The party will not tolerate any attempts by NCP representatives to scuttle chances of its MP, who is among the senior-most members of Lok Sabha, from a seat Congress has never lost, sources say.
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While party stalwarts Nitin Gadkari and Gopinath Munde will contest from Nagpur and Beed respectively, MLA Nana Patole has been picked from Bhandara Gondia to take on NCP leader Union Minister Praful Patel. BJP MLA Gopal Shetty will take on Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam from Mumbai North.
>> Shiv Sena has sidelined senior leader Manohar Joshi in its first list, and nominated BMC standing committee chief Rahul Shewale from Mumbai South Central. Other candidates include Arvind Sawant from Mumbai South, Gajanan Kirtikar from Mumbai North West, Dr Shreekant Shinde from Kalyan, Rajan Vichare from Thane, and Anant Gite from Raigad.
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>> Manikrao Gavit from Congress currently holds the seat
>> Nandurbar is a constituency reserved for scheduled tribes
>> Gandhi family begins its election campaign from Nandurbar