Is it curtains for BJP veteran Eknath Khadse?
The senior BJP leader has been denied a ticket from Jalgaon's Muktainagar; insiders predict defection to NCP, Khadse to announce his stand today
BJP's estranged veteran Eknath Khadse, who had been preparing for a swansong, has been denied a poll ticket from Muktainagar. While Khadse said that he would not work against the party, NCP boss Sharad Pawar's statement that certain BJP leaders were in touch with him and his party, has created a furore in political circles.
Khadse confirmed the news while addressing his supporters on Thursday and said that the party has asked him to nominate a replacement. Insiders said it could be his daughter Rohini who might replace her father. He denied a possibility of rebellion when supporters urged him to go ahead. Khadse told media persons that his daughter's name was suggested by the party and his rehabilitation was also assured.
The situation worsened despite Khadse's controlled measures since neither his nor his daughter's name was included in the third list on Thursday. Pawar's revelation in Mumbra that BJP leaders were in touch with him and other NCP leaders set many tongues wagging. Today, October 4, is the last day for filing nominations to the Assembly elections on October 21.
"The party told me I will not get a ticket. I wanted to know why. But I don't mind if I don't get an answer. I'm not that big a leader (any longer). They asked me to nominate a candidate but for me every BJP worker here is Eknath Khadse," he told a gathering of supporters. Khadse said he would declare his final stand on the issue at 11 am today, October 4, at his supporters' gathering.
Other seniors in limbo
With Khadse's ouster from the official race, the BJP also put a sitting minister Vinod Tawde, ex-ministers Prakash Mehta and Raj Puhorit who are eyeing their Mumbai constituencies in an agonising wait. Minister Chandrakant Bawankule's candidature from Kamptee wasn't cleared even as four more candidates were announced on Thursday. Sources said the party wants the energy minister to contest from Katol.
On Thursday, CM Devendra Fadnavis's close associate Parinay Fuke, who is a minister of state, was fielded from Sakoli in anticipation that Congress leader Nana Patole might contest from there. However, Congress hadn't declared its Sakoli nominee by Thursday evening. Two turncoats -- former Congress MLAs Ramesh Thakur (Malad west) and Kashiram Pavra (Shirpur) -- were also cleared. Mallikarjun Reddy was repeated from Ramtek.
In Mumbai, BJP sources indicated surprising changes. Higher and technical education minister Vinod Tawde might be replaced by MLC Praveen Darekar or BJP loyalist Sunil Rane. Ex-minister Ram Naik's daughter Vishakha Kulkarni's name also did the rounds. Prakash Mehta (Ghatkopar East), who was dropped from the cabinet, could be sidelined for sitting corporator Parag Shah or Pravin Chheda. NCP leader Rahul Narvekar or Colaba corporator Makarand Narvekar were in consideration for Colaba where BJP veteran Raj Purohit has been holding fort.
BJP ally drops don's brother
Following pressure from the BJP, party's ally RPI (Ramdas Athawale) has dropped underworld don Chhota Rajan's younger brother Deepak Nikalje's candidature from Phaltan. Nikalje has unsuccessfully contested previous elections as an RPI nominee. RPI (A) has been given six seats in distribution by the BJP with a condition that it would fight on the BJP's election symbol. Party president Ramdas Athawale had declared Nikalje's name two days ago but replaced it with Digambar Aagav.
CM & Uddhav's joint media conference
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray will address a joint press conference on Friday at Nariman Point's Mahila Vikas Hall. The parties had avoided holding a ceremonial announcement of the alliance, but they will go on record after the Assembly polls nominations close on Thursday.
SP gives in to Congress in Byculla
During discussions between Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress, the Byculla constituency was a bone of contention. While SP was earlier adamant about fielding sitting corporator Rais Shaikh from the Byculla constituency, they had to concede to Congress' decision after they named Madhu Chavan for the seat for the sake of the alliance between the two parties. SP has now asked Shaikh to contest from Bhiwandi East instead.
Nitesh Rane joins BJP
Nitesh Rane, former Congress MLA and son of former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane on Thursday joined the BJP and will contest the October 21 state Assembly polls from Kankavli seat in Konkan. Nitesh won the 2014 Assembly polls from Kankavli in Sindhudurg district on Congress's ticket by defeating the then BJP MLA Pramod Jathar. Narayan Rane, who founded the Maharashtra Swabhiman Party in 2017 after parting ways with the Congress, had spoken of merging the outfit with the BJP.
Former Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam has threatened to stay away from campaigning because the party hasn't accepted his nomination for the city's Versova seat. Sources said Nirupam had asked Congress high command to consider a local builder and Congress supporter Raees Lashkaria, but the ticket went to former MLA and party loyalist Baldev Khosa. An upset Nirupam tweeted on Thursday, "It seems Congress doesn't want my services anymore. As I had told the leadership earlier, I will not participate in the poll campaign. It's my final decision."
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