Mumbai: 'Imported' candidates cause rebellion in BJP

BJP's decision on fielding new recruits at the cost of loyalists, has led senior leader Manoj Kotak to rebel and file his nomination as an independent candidate

The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is all set to make legislative council polls interesting, at the cost of the sentiments of loyalists in the party while choosing candidates imported from other outfits. As a result, a senior party member, Manoj Kotak, has rebelled and filed his nomination as an independent.

Senior member Manoj Kotak has filed his nomination as an independent (right) Instead of Kotak, the BJP chose its latest import from the NCP, Prasad Lad
Senior member Manoj Kotak has filed his nomination as an independent (right) Instead of Kotak, the BJP chose its latest import from the NCP, Prasad Lad

On Tuesday, the last day of filing nominations there were 12 candidates, two more than the seats available for contesting, in the fray. Voting will be held on June 10 if two of 12 candidates don’t withdraw or in case any two nominations get scrapped in scrutiny.

The members of the Legislative Assembly will vote in the polls. The BJP can win five seats of the 10 if the votes are distributed wisely. It has its 123 members in the Assembly and enjoys support of independents and other parties in the house of 288 members. A candidate who gets a quota of 27 votes is declared winner in the Legislative Council polls.

The Congress has fielded one candidate (Narayan Rane), the NCP two (Ramaraje Nimbalkar and Dhananjay Munde) and the Shiv Sena two (ministers Diwakar Raote and Subhash Desai). The BJP has Sadabhau Khot (ally Swambhimani Shetkari Sanghtana), Vinayak Mete (ally Shiv Sangram), Surjitsingh Thakur, Pravin Darekar, Prasad Lad and R N Singh. Lad and Singh’s names were declared on the last day of filing nominations.

Of BJP nominees, Thakur is the only worker who has come up BJP’s organisational ladder. Singh has had an association with the Congress and Shiv Sena and not many in the BJP’s north Indian camp are happy with his nomination.

Horse-trading on the cards
If more than 10 candidates remain in the race, horse-trading is expected to take place. Some candidates are filthy rich and can use money power to scrape through. The voting is held in a secret ballot, which facilitates cross-voting.

Little wonder then that the BJP faces rebellion from Manoj Kotak, one of its Mumbai leaders, who filed his papers after being denied official candidature despite the fact that he was asked to withdraw from the Legislative Council polls of the BMC constituency early this year.

Instead of Kotak, BJP’s latest import from the NCP, Prasad Lad was preferred. Lad too, had contested the BMC constituency early this year and given a Congress nominee Bhai Jagtap, a run for his money. He was supported tacitly by the BJP by withdrawing Kotak, and the NCP, which wanted the Congress nominee defeated. But Jagtap won with a slender margin.

Leaders upset
Kotak too is from Mumbai and feels betrayed, said people close to him. “Kotak expected that he would be given an opportunity by the party. He too represents a dedicated vote bank of the BJP,” said a BJP leader.

Another aspirant and the party’s Maharashtra chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari is reportedly upset after being denied candidature. He is a diehard party worker with strong connections with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Earlier, Bhandari had sought an Assembly ticket, but in vain.

The party’s Mumbai secretary Vivekanand Gupta told mid-day that the allotment of tickets was in violation of BJP’s policy of fighting against corruption. “By fielding Darekar, the BJP has shown that it is no different from other parties,” he said, adding that he expected many more voices to come out against the party’s decision at an appropriate time.

No issues in RS polls
The Rajya Sabha polls from Maharashtra will not require voting as the number of candidates in the fray and the seats available are the same (six). The voice vote does not allow any cross-voting. As per its strength in the Assembly, the BJP will have three candidates — Union power minister Piyush Goyal, party vice-president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and Dr Vikas Mahatme elected unopposed. The Sena will have Sanjay Raut re-elected, while the NCP’s Praful Patel will go again to the upper house. Congress senior leader P Chidambaram too is assured of his victory.

Eye on civic polls
Darekar, Lad and Singh are from Mumbai. Darekar’s candidature has been opposed by a section of the BJP because he faces corruption cases.

But the BJP is unlikely to change his candidature, said a senior party leader. Giving significant representation to Mumbai is part of the party’s strategy ahead of the civic polls next year.

Darekar and Lad will be the party’s Marathi faces while Singh will represent North Indians who are big supporters of the BJP, but were unhappy because of less prominence.

Sources said that the leaders selected for council polls would be instrumental in bettering the BJP’s prospects in the BMC elections.

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