MUMBAI; In the seven Lok Sabha seats in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, where polling will be held in the first phase on April 11, the Congress and NCP are hoping to recover the ground they had lost in the 2014 elections.
In the previous Lok Sabha polls, the Congress had lost in six constituencies, while the NCP was defeated in Bhandara-Gondiya.
This time, Congress and BJP are pitted against each other in Wardha, Nagpur, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Chandrapur constituencies, while the former will take on the Shiv Sena in Ramtek and Yavatmal-Washim. In Bhandara-Gondiya, the NCP will lock horns with the BJP.
Nagpur, Chandrapur and Yavatmal-Washim are the constituencies from where Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Hansraj Ahir, and senior Congress leader Manikrao Thakre are contesting respectively.
In the 2014 elections, the Congress had lost six seats with a margin of two lakh to three lakh votes.
NCP's Praful Patel had lost the Bhandara-Gondiya seat with a margin of around 1.4 lakh votes. In 2017, Nana Patole, who had won on the BJP ticket and defeated Patel, quit the party and joined the Congress.
In the bypoll held for that seat in 2018, NCP's Madhukar Kukde had won. Congress has renominated Namdeo Usendi from Gadchiroli-Chimur.
Usendi was an MLA in 2014 when he replaced Congress MP in Gadchiroli Marotrao Kowase in 2014. But he was defeated by former BJP MLA Ashok Nete and Usendi will again clash with each other at the hustings.
Congress has fielded Charulata Tokas in Wardha, Patole in Nagpur, senior leader Manikrao Thakre in Yavatmal-Washim, Kishore Gajbhiye in Ramtek.
In Chandrapur, Suresh Dhanorkar, a sitting Sena MLA, is the party candidate against Union minister Hansraj Ahir. NCP has replaced its sitting MP Madhukar Kukde with Nana Panchbuddhe in Bhandara-Gondiya.
After being wiped out from Vidarbha in 2014, the Congress is now looking to recover the lost ground.
"However, the choice of candidates and preference for the Maratha community has angered the party workers from other sections of the society," a senior leader of the party from Vidarbha said.
"But still, we expect to do well in at least three seats," he said.