Seeking to smooth the ruffled feathers among its allies, BJP today fielded candidates from Shivsangram and RSP for the January 30 election to Maharashtra Legislative Council, but left the Swabhimani Shetkari Paksh high and dry.
Shivsangram leader Vinayak Mete and Rashtriya Samaj Paksh's Mahadev Jankar filed papers today, the last day of filing nominations. Both the parties had entered into alliance with BJP before the Assembly elections last October.
BJP's Smita Wagh, leader of its women's wing and former member of Jalgaon zilla parishad also filed papers. Wagh is known as a loyalist of Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, who was present at Vidhan Bhawan when she filed the papers.
Subhash Desai, a Shiv Sena heavyweight and industries minister in the BJP-Sena government, also filed his papers. Desai had lost to BJP's Vidya Thakur in the Assembly elections, but was inducted as a cabinet minister last month after Sena joined the government.
All the four would be elected unopposed as no other candidate is in the fray.
Three of these seats fell vacant after former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan (Congress), Vinod Tawde and Ashish Shelar (both BJP) were elected to the Assembly, while another seat became vacant after Mete was disqualified under the anti-defection law.
Chavan's term in the Upper House was to end in 2016, while that of Tawde and Shelar were to end in 2020 and 2018, respectively.
After the dismal performance of the pre-poll allies in the Assembly elections, BJP was expected to help them enter the Upper House. However, Sadabhau Khot of SSP (another BJP ally) who wanted a Council ticket from BJP quota appeared sullen today.
Khot alleged that he was denied the ticket because of his party's recent agitation against the state government over the sugarcane farmers' issues. Counting of votes will be held on the same day as the election, i.e., January 30.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters at Vidhan Bhawan that "Mahayuti (BJP-led grand alliance) partners are united as can be seen from the allies being fielded for Council polls."
Asked if the BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari, who was expected to get a Council nomination, had been sidelined, state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve said, "It is not the case. Some get chance now, some will get it later." Danve also denied that Raju Shetti-led SSP was denied a ticket because of its recent agitation.