Mumbai: Senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane will contest the prestigious Bandra East assembly bypoll, the party announced on Sunday.
The party will not contest the Tasgaon-Kavthemahankal constituency in Sangli, held by former deputy chief minister R.R. Patil who died last month, state Congress chief Ashok Chavan announced following the party high command decision in New Delhi.
The bypoll to Bandra East was necessitated by the death of sitting member Prakash Bala Sawant of the Shiv Sena.
Bandra East is considered a Shiv Sena bastion as the Thackerays' household 'Matoshri' is situated there, and the party has been speaking of an unoposed election in memory of the departed leader and it plans to field his widow Trupti from the constituency.
Rane's name was in speculation since the past few days and he agreed to contest bowing to the party wishes. He had lost the October 2014 assembly polls from his home town in Sindhudurg.
He reportedly made up his mind following a crucial meeting with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar early on Sunday.
The election is considered critical for Rane's return to mainstream politics though he is also tipped for the post of party general secretary.
The Bandra East bypoll will also be a litmus test for the leadership of the newly-appointed state unit chief Ashok Chavan and Mumbai chief Sanjay Nirupam.
Incidentally, Rane had expressed his displeasure against both appointments claiming senior leaders were not consulted over the issue.