Top contests of 2014: Muttemwar vs Gadkari vs Anjali Damania

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Muttemwar vs Gadkari vs Damania
Nagpur, April 9: Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Anjali Damania will take on former BJP president Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur seat in Maharashtra. The sitting MP, Congress's Vilas Muttemwar, is the third candidate in this seat.

[Read: Top contests of 2014]

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2009 result: Congres's Vilas Muttemwar defeated BJP's Bhanwarilal Purohit by 24,399 votes. The difference in vote-share was 3.2%.

Nagpur goes to the polls on April 10.

About Vilas Muttemwar (Congress)

Muttemwar, 65, is a former minster of state of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of India (independent charge). He is a seven-time MP (four times from Nagpur) and known as the pioneer of the MIHAN project in Maharashtra. Muttemwar is now leading the movement for a separate Vidarbha state. The leader is also known for his clean image but will also be facing the anti-incumbency factor both against himself and his party. However, the incentive to defeat a heavyweight opponent like Nitin Gadkari will be big for it can earn him more recognition from his party.

About Nitin Gadkari (BJP)

The 52-year-old former president of the BJP is contesting his first Lok Sabha election this time. Gadkari, known to be close to the RSS, had also served in the Maharashtra government when the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance was in power and was known for his work in improving the infrastructure. However, the alleged irregularities in the Purti Group firm promoted by him after accusations were made by the Aam Aadmi Party led to his resignation from the party president's post. He was also accused of not being able to provide a sound leadership to the party. Gadkari's image as a pro-development man is his biggest asset in this election.

About Anjali Damania (AAP)

An anti-corruption activist and a pathologist by profession, Anjali Damanai has been after Gadkari since 2011 when she accused him of trying to shield leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party involved in irrigation scams. She also brought to the fore allegations of irregularities in the functioning of the Purti Group. The AAP decided to field Damania from Nagpur after a lot of deliberation as the party wants to show to the people that it is equally against the BJP on the issue of corruption.

Analysis: The Gadkari-Damania contesting will be an absorbing one but one thinks the final conclusion in Nagpur will go in favour of the Congress, which is a strong force here. The BJP has won here just once (in 1996) but that too when Banwarilal Purohit, a Congress rebel, switched sides and fought on a BJP ticket. The Congress candidate faces internal squabble but Gadkari too faces similar problems and the AAP doesn't have a formidable organisation to challenge the powerful opponents. Even the Modi wave might not prove to be advantageous for the BJP here. So all in all, the Congress looks to bag this seat this time as well.

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