Largely considered as invincible in his constituency, Patel is facing firm competition from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Nana Patole, who is an influential leader of the Kunbi Samaj.

At 2 pm on a sunny day in Vidharbh’s Gondiya region, which has a population of around 3.5 lakhs, slogans of ‘Har Har Modi, Ghar Ghar Patole’ can be ubiquitously heard, clearly ringing alarm bells for the high-ranking NCP leader.

Hailing from a traditionally well-off family, Patel has never faced such a struggle like this time to win from his pocket borough Bhandara-Gondiya.

Patel has contested Lok Sabha elections five times, emerging victorious four times. He was defeated by a paltry margin of just 3000 votes in the 2004 general elections, mainly because the Bahujan Samaj Party (BJP) candidate had eaten into his share of votes, bagging nearly 90 thousand votes.

The situation seems to be difficult for Patel this time. BJP’s decision to field Patole against him has added to his woes. Patole came second as an Independent against Patel in 2009 elections.

Patole, who had joined BJP soon after last general elections, won the Sakoli legislative seat with a record margin in 2009. Out of six assembly seats in this constituency, BJP won four.

To further compound Patel’s miseries, BSP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have also fielded strong candidates against him.

Even the development work carried out by Patel in his constituency is being linked to his own vested interests. During his stint as the Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Patel was instrumental behind setting up of an industrial unit of BHEL and a power plant of the Adani Group in his constituency.

Patel’s image has also been stained to some extent as his name has cropped up into a scam related to the compensation for the land occupied for the BHEL unit.

There have been claims that Patel has a partnership in the Adani plant in which mostly outsiders are getting jobs.

Few days back, the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) arrived in Gondiya had some faults and Patel was blamed for this as well.

It seems like Patel will have to overcome a host of tribulations if he has to retain his seat in this Lok Sabha elections.


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