Former Congress leader Narayan Rane may have floated his own political party, but the odds of him entering the Maharashtra Legislative Council are still stacked against him. Political pundits say Rane would have to gather support from parties other than the BJP — which would field him for a seat in the upper house — since all of them might not vote for him. Rane's regional outfit, named Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh (MSP) is all set to join the BJP-led NDA, and if the leader is to be believed, he will make a successful attempt to get a seat in the upper house, whenever a bypoll is held for the seat he vacated.

Narayan Rane
Narayan Rane

Ministerial berth
This also means that Rane would get a ministerial berth in CM Devendra Fadnavis's cabinet, for which he'd have to get a membership of either house of legislature. However, he'd have to find voters in all parties. With only one seat going to poll, the 288 members of the state Assembly would vote for the candidates in the fray. But not all would vote for Rane, especially the Shiv Sena, which is his prime target. In the house of 288, BJP has 122 seats, Congress 42, NCP 41 and Sena 63. Others have remaining members.

BJP cannot make Rane a winner without Sena's support. Other than some 20 MLAs from smaller parties and independents, Rane would need votes from the NCP and Congress camps. "I have friends in the Congress, except Ashok Chavan (state president). All in Sena except Uddhav Thackeray are my friends and the entire NCP is my friend," Rane said on Sunday. People close to him say this should win their leader a seat in upper house.

Rane was confident of getting some Sena MLAs to cross-vote for him. The BJP-Sena combine and others (excluding Congress and NCP) can easily win a seat together. However, the Sena may not make it easy for Rane.

"We have already inflicted two successive defeats on Rane. We're eager to defeat him once again," said a senior Sena leader, adding that his party would not vote for Rane.

Cong's candidate?
Some Congress leaders feel that their party should also field a candidate, just to teach Rane a lesson. "We may win or lose. A lot depends on how NCP, Sena and others play their moves. But, we shouldn't leave the game meekly," said a Congress leader. Since it would be a secret ballot, the possibility of horse trading by all stakeholders has not been ruled out.