Cautious BJP pulls out 2 candidates
Ensures unopposed win for the remaining five in MLC polls. Party insiders say the move was prompted by the fear that Eknath Khadse's supporters would not vote for the official candidates
What made the BJP withdraw its two candidates from the legislative council elections yesterday? Insiders said issues related to senior minister Eknath Khadse have played a major part in the withdrawals of Prasad Lad and Manoj Kotak because the party was not sure whether Khadse's supporters would vote for the party's official candidates.
Manoj Kotak had filed his nomination as an independent when Prasad Lad was allowed to submit his nomination papers
With the withdrawals, all 10 candidates in the fray, including the BJP's five, will be declared unopposed winners as there are 10 seats available. Members of the assembly were to vote in the elections to be held on June 11. Apart from the Khadse controversy, there is a wide resentment in the party against the candidature of Pravin Darekar and RN Singh, who are imports from other parties.
In fact, the BJP accomplished many things with a singular action, said another party insider. He said the BJP has not only ensured victory of its five candidates, but has also guarded itself against allegations of horse-trading by way of fielding extra candidates.
The BJP had seven players, including two allies, in the field for the vacancy of 10 seats. Other parties had fielded five. Six of the BJP's candidates enjoyed the party's official blessings, while the seventh candidate (Kotak) banked on the party's tacit support. The BJP leaders were also concerned about its allies who are solely dependent on the BJP's votes. The BJP did not want its ally to suffer if voting was held, more so because it was not sure of getting the Shiv Sena's extra votes in its kitty.
Relief for Cong, NCP
With the withdrawals, the BJP has brought much relief to the Congress and the NCP, who feared cross-voting by their MLAs in view of internal clashes. A section of the Congress was not happy with its party's decision of conceding one seat to the NCP, which had pulled senior Congress leader Shivajirao Deshmukh down from the council chairman's post through a vote of no confidence.
NCP's Dhananjay Munde, who is the leader of opposition in the Upper House, should be happy because his estranged cousin and BJP minister, Pankaja Munde, wanted him defeated in these polls.
Down, but not out
Lad and Kotak confirmed that they followed the party's instructions. "I pulled out because my party asked me to do so. My party has not promised me anything for doing this," Kotak told mid-day.
Lad said, "I withdrew my nomination after being instructed by my party seniors." He indicated that he was down but not out.
Making the cut
The candidates who scraped through are Narayan Rane (Congress), Ramaraje Nimbalkar and Dhananjay Munde (NCP), Diwakar Raote and Subhash Desai (Shiv Sena), Sadabhau Khot (BJP ally Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana), Vinayak Mete (BJP ally Shiv Sangram), Surjitsingh Thakur, Pravin Darekar and RN Singh (BJP).
The six candidates in the RS elections, too, are sure of reaching the house as the number of candidates in the fray and the seats available are the same. 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, and the NCP Praful Patel. The Congress has nominated senior leader P Chidambaram.