Ashok Chavan (Photo: PTI)

AIt is unusual that both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah – the double engine that pulls the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s election campaigns – hold public meetings in the same constituency. But this has happened in Nanded, which is in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra and goes to polls in the second phase on 26 April.

Nanded is the home turf of former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, who had to step down following the alleged Adarsh scam. Chavan won the seat as a Congress candidate in the 2014 LS polls, and it was one of only two seats, the other being Hingoli, that the party won in Maharashtra 10 years back. Chavan recently joined the BJP from the Congress and was sent to the Rajya Sabha by the ruling party immediately after the shift.

The BJP has again fielded sitting MP Prataprao Patil Chikhalikar who humbled Chavan in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by over 40,000 votes. The Congress has fielded former MLA Vasant Chavan. In 2019, the BJP secured 43.3 per cent of the votes while the Congress got 39.7 per cent. Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, which got almost 15 per cent votes, was seen as the reason for Chavan’s defeat in 2019. The VBA has fielded Avinash Bhosikar as their candidate this time. Chavan is actively campaigning for the BJP in Nanded, but recent agitations by farmer-turned-Maratha reservation icon Manoj Jarange Patil triggered Maratha discontent. Nanded, which is a predominantly agrarian economy, is also witnessing farmer distress. Marathas, who are about 65 per cent of the voters, will hold the key in this high voltage constituency. There is also a sizable Muslim and Dalit population. Chavan’s father, former Maharashtra CM and ex-Union finance minister Shankarrao Chavan, won the seat in 1980 and 84.

First Published: Apr 24 2024 | 5:29 PM IST

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