Party pulls out candidate, brightens NCP rebel’s prospects
In a dramatic move on Saturday, the BJP asked its official candidate in the state legislative council polls (BMC constituency), Manoj Kotak, to withdraw his nomination.
Sources say Kotak’s withdrawal was expected to benefit NCP rebel Prasad Lad, who is in the fray with Shiv Sena’s Ramdas Kadam and Congress' Bhai (Ashok) Jagtap. Lad quit the NCP early this week to contest the polls as an independent because the NCP is in alliance with the Congress in eight vacancies across the state.
In Mumbai, the elections will be held for two vacancies. Kadam and Jagtap are sitting MLCs. BJP insiders say the party pulled out Kotak because of lack of support from the Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (28 votes) after it declared that it would remain neutral in the polls.
The BJP (32 votes) needed at least 76 first preference votes to win the seat and it had been eyeing MNS, other parties and independents for support. The development is seen as an opportunity to get even with the Congress by voting for Lad and obliging the NCP, which helped stabilize the BJP minority government last year before the Sena joined it formally.
With Kotak’s move, the MNS is free to use its strength. Sources say the party was most likely to support Lad, a Maharashtrian. Lad may also take away most of NCP’s 13 votes and others to ensure his victory, said a senior Congress leader, requesting anonymity.
The Sena (75 corporators and a few committed supporters) is expected to get Kadam elected comfortably. Kotak said he withdrew as per the party’s directives. Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar was busy at a public function and unavailable for comment.