Narayan Rane may take MLC route to Upper House

Congress insiders say the legislative council elections may see a fierce battle between the ex-CM and incumbent Ashok Jagtap for the party’s official candidature from Mumbai’s civic corporation constituency

If everything falls into place, Congressman Narayan Rane will make the forthcoming legislative council elections more interesting. The city corporators will elect their two representatives to the Upper House next month, and Rane is tipped to be one of the hot contenders for the Congress candidature.

Narayan Rane is tipped to be one of the hot contenders for the Congress candidature. File pic
Narayan Rane is tipped to be one of the hot contenders for the Congress candidature. File pic

The voting will be held on December 27 and counting will take place on December 30. Nominations will be filed between December 2 and 9.

Currently, the Congress and the Shiv Sena have one legislator each — Bhai (Ashok) Jagtap and Ramdas Kadam — from BMC’s 227-member house. The incumbent’s term ends on January 1, 2016. The election authority is expected to declare a poll programme for Mumbai, along with six other local self-government seats across the state anytime soon.

Sources in the Congress said that former CM Rane was willing to contest elections if he was asked to. Having adequate number of votes (along with allies), the Congress will face no difficulty in winning at least one seat. But this surity of victory is proving to be a bone of contention between Rane and incumbent Jagtap, who also is lobbying for another term.

Tough fight
“Some sections in the Congress feel that Rane should represent the party in the legislature because he voluntarily fought against a Sena candidate in the Bandra Assembly by-poll early this year. We feel that he should be there in the legislature to attack the BJP government,” said a Rane supporter.

Jagtap’s supporters wondered as to why the MLC shouldn’t get another term. They said that he deserved yet another term because of his good performance as a legislator and fine show as a party spokesperson.

Jagtap enjoys state Congress president Ashok Chavan’s strong backing. When he was CM, Chavan had preferred Jagtap over many others in 2009 for the Mumbai seat.

Chavan will boost Jagtap’s prospects because Rane’s emergence in legislative politics will be a big challenge to the Congress president’s current position in the party. Chavan will be a top contender for the CM’s post in case the Congress manages to get closer to forming the government in the next Assembly polls.

On the other hand, Rane also hasn’t lost hope of becoming the CM yet again. He has been leaving his mark in important political developments without being a member of either house of legislature. Rane headed the Sena-BJP government for about a year in 1999. He shifted his loyalty to the Congress from the Sena in 2005 after falling out with Uddhav Thackeray.

If Rane gets a ticket and wins, his losing streak will end. Earlier, he had lost the Assembly polls in 2014 in his long-held constituency in Konkan and later he offered his candidature in the Bandra by-poll. He made it a tough battle despite the polls culminating in his defeat.

MNS to play a crucial role
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) will hold the key if there are more than two candidates in the fray. With a significant share of votes (28 corporators), the MNS will be in demand from candidates who aspire to stage a surprise in the preferential voting method, which is used in legislative council polls.

Six years ago, the BJP (now with 32 corporators) had fielded Madhu Chavan in the contest, but couldn’t get him elected. The party is likely to contest yet again and woo prospective voters from parties other than Sena and Congress (52 corporators). There are 27 others, including Samajwadi Party (SP), Independents and smaller parties.

The NCP has 13 corporators. Both NCP and SP are likely to go with the Congress. The Sena (75 corporators) will comfortably get one MLC elected. Its first choice is Maharashtra Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam, who was rehabilitated in 2009 after losing the Assembly polls in Konkan.

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