NAMES OF a former Maharashtra chief minister, a former state Congress chief, two former Union ministers, a sitting MP and a former chief minister’s wife were shortlisted on Tuesday by the state Congress Parliamentary Board for the Lok Sabha polls.
While the Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led NCP are yet to formally declare the seat-sharing arrangement between them, the state Congress parliamentary board scrutinised the list of probables on 26 out of the 48 Lok Sabha seats.
In 2014, the Congress had contested 26 seats, while the NCP had contested 22. Although the NCP has demanded one or two more seats this time, the Congress screened candidates on all the 26 seats it had contested the last time, said sources.
Former state CM Sushil Kumar Shinde is the party’s unanimous choice from the Solapur seat, which he had failed to retain the last time. Former Union minister Mukul Wasnik and Milind Deora were shortlisted from Ramtek (Vidarbha) and Mumbai-South (Mumbai) seats, respectively. Rajeev Satav, one of the party’s two sitting MPs, is expected to be renominated from the Hingoli (Marathwada).
But with former CM and state Congress president Ashok Chavan, the party’s other MP, interested in contesting the state polls, his wife, Ameeta, a sitting legislator, is expected to be nominated from Nanded (Marathwada). Mahila Congress leader Charulata Tokas is the sole aspirant from the Wardha (Vidarbha) seat. Former state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre is the party’s sole contender from Yavatmal.
With more than one aspirant vying for the remaining 21 seats, the state board held discussions on their candidature. “A panel of likely candidates will be shared with the Congress’ central screening committee for these seats,” said a leader.
Incidentally, there was some drama when the list of likely candidates for the six seats in Mumbai was being discussed. While Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, a former MP from Mumbai-North, wants to be nominated from the neighbouring Mumbai North-West constituency, other senior city leaders — such as Deora, former state ministers Naseem Khan, Varsha Gaikwad and Kripashankar Singh and former MP Eknath Gaikwad — opposed this, suggesting that he should continue to contest from Mumbai North, which is a BJP stronghold.
“If the city Congress chief switches his own constituency, it won’t send the right message,” argued one of them. But with Nirupam standing his ground, it was decided that the decision regarding Mumbai North and Mumbai North-West should be left to the party high command.
Interestingly, while former MP Priya Dutt had earlier announced that she would not contest the upcoming polls, her name is among those shortlisted to be nominated from Mumbai North Central Three former state ministers — Khan, Singh and Baba Siddique — Rajya Sabha MP Hussain Dalwai and actor-turned-politician Nagma Morarji are also in contention for the seat. For Mumbai South West, Eknath Gaikwad, economist Bhalchandra Mungekar and bureaucrat Uttam Khobragade are in the fray.
After the meeting, Chavan said, “We screened the list of probables for 26 seats. Discussions took place on who is the best suited to be nominated for each of the seats. We are trying to finalise the names on the basis of elective merit. The shortlisted list will be sent to Delhi, where it would be finalised.”
Chavan added that the discussions were inconclusive with regards to a couple of seats in Mumbai.