Bhandara: Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party on Thursday snatched the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seat from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.Madhukar Kukade of the NCP defeated BJP’s Hemant Patle by a margin of 48,097 votes in the by-election necessitated due to the resignation of the sitting BJP MP Nana Patole who quit the BJP to join Congress earlier this year.The election assumed significance as Mr. Patole had quit the BJP by accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being “pseudo OBC and anti-farmer”. The Congress and the NCP contested this election in alliance.The Shiv Sena and Bahujan Samaj Party did not field candidates making it a direct fight between the NCP and BJP.The election was in the news due to large-scale complaints of EVM malfunctioning on the day of voting prompting the Election Commission to order re-poll at 49 centres and the transfer of Gondia district collector.It was the Congress, led by Nana Patole, which took this election seriously. When NCP workers were complaining about lack of resources and support from the party, Congress leaders and workers were spending from their own pockets for the NCP candidate. “It was an election of Nana Patole versus Narendra Modi. This election was fought by poor people and farmers, against the powerful central and state government which is why every Congress leaders and workers worked extra hard,” Mr. Patole, now the vice-president of the state unit of Congress told The Hindu at his village Sukdi.“Today’s results show that voters have a lot of anger towards central and state government. This also shows that people are losing confidence in state and central government,” senior NCP leader Praful Patel.This Lok Sabha seat is considered a stronghold of Mr. Patel. However, in 2014 Mr. Patole, then a BJP candidate, defeated him by 1,49,254 votes.When asked about the BJP’s defeat despite campaigning by CM Devendra Fadnavis and union minister Nitin Gadkari and BJP’s active machinery, BJP candidate Hemant Patle said that high temperature resulted in low voter turnout which impacted his party’s performance.“Also, there was no division of vote this time and the contest was the BJP versus all. We will introspect this defeat,” Mr.Patle told The Hindu.Out of total 9,48,849 votes polled, the NCP’s Madhukar Kukade secured 4,42,213 votes whereas the BJP’S Hemant Patle got 3,94,116 votes and 6602 votes went to NOTA.The NCP’s victory, despite Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh candidate L.K.Madavi securing 40326 votes, shows that general vote consolidation cutting across caste lines against the BJP.