Elections 2019: Vidarbha braves heat to vote in phase I of LS polls
Nitin Gadkari, who is contesting from Nagpur, and Hansraj Ahir, the BJP nominee from Chandrapur, are the prominent candidates from the region
Braving the heat, voters from seven Vidarbha seats turned up in large numbers to seal the fate of leaders like Union ministers Nitin Gadkari (BJP), Hansraj Ahir and former state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre in the first phase of the 17th Lok Sabha elections.
The poll average in the region recorded till 5 pm was 55.78 per cent, but with another 60 minutes to close the day and a large number of people waiting in long queues at the polling booths, the election observers said the count in at least three seats would increase by at least 10 percent. The polling average in 2014 was about 65 per cent for the seven seats.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat
Highest voter turnout, at 61.33 per cent, was recorded in the Naxal-infested Gadchiroli-Chimur, where Maoists had threatened the people against voting in this election. Polling in some stations in the district was stalled due to security reasons.
The polling percentage in Nagpur, where transport and water resources minister Gadkari is contesting against Congress candidate Nana Patole, was 53.13. In Ramtek (reserved for scheduled caste), where Congress has pitted ex-IAS officer Kishor Gajbhiye against sitting Sena MP Krupal Tumane, the turnout was 51.72 per cent.
Devendra Fadnavis and wife Amruta after casting their votes. Pics/Sunny Shende
In Gondiya-Bhandara, 60.50 per cent people voted to decide the winner among BJP's Sanjay Bhende and NCP's Nana Panchbuddhe. The NCP had last won the seat in a bypoll held after Patole's resignation as BJP MP. Chandrapur's turnout, at 55.97 per cent, wasn't as high as its neighbour Gadchiroli-Chimur. Here, Sunil alias Balu Dhanorkar, former Sena leader who joined Congress ahead of the polls, gave a tough fight to Union minister Ahir. Dhanorkar made headlines a day before the polling when his office was searched by the Income Tax department. The search didn't yield any result.
In Wardha, where BJP MP Ramdas Tadas faced Congress candidate Charulata Rau Tokas, voter turnout was 55.36 per cent.
In Yavatmal-Washim, Bhavana Gawali - a four-time MP and Sena's only female representative in Parliament - faced a tough challenge by Thakre, who didn't hold any rallies in the beginning of the campaign but ensured that he reached every nook and corner of his constituency.
The poll rallies in the region before the first phase of the elections also saw PM Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi trade barbs on various issues. The second phase of polling will be held on April 18.
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General Elections 2019: A recap of the LS polls from 2004-2014