Amid sharp differences within its ranks, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday withdrew its sixth candidate, Prasad Lad, and an independent backed by party leader Manoj Kotak, thus ending the possibility of a contest in the state legislative council elections.
The BJP’s decision to withdraw the two candidates for the ten council seat elections comes as major relief to the NCP, which was short of votes for its two candidates holding constitutional posts — Ramraje Nimbalkar and Dhananjay Munde.
To get elected, each of the ten candidates required 27 votes. The electoral strength of each party in the state Assembly is: BJP (123), Congress (42), NCP (41) and Shiv Sena (63).
After the withdrawal, the BJP is left with five candidates, who can easily sail through with the support of smaller allies. The BJP candidates now are: Sujitsingh Thakur (BJP), Praveen Darekar (BJP), R N Singh (BJP), Sadabhau Khot (Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana) and Vinayak Mete (Shiv Sangram).
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The Congress has fielded only one candidate — senior leader Narayan Rane. The Congress’s additional votes will help secure a safe passage for NCP’s Nimbalkar and Munde. Nimbalkar is the chairman of the state council and Munde is the Leader of Opposition. It must be mentioned here that Khot and Mete, who represent the smaller allies, got elected on BJP’s form and vote share in the council.
Various theories are being discussed within the BJP for its decision to avoid a contest. A political manager said, “Fielding a sixth candidate and an Independent was part of the strategy to keep the opposition NCP on tenterhooks.”
However, another theory is that the additional candidates were fielded to diffuse dissent within the organisation. Some insiders also indicated that a serious effort to hold the contest was thwarted because of the unrest within the party loyalists, who were protesting the preference given to “outsiders”, the new entrants.
There has been opposition within the BJP to the candidature of Praveen Darekar and R N Singh, who joined the party recently. The Mumbai unit activists have lodged complaints against city president Ashish Shelar to the state president Raosaheb Danve.
However, a senior leader argued, “In electoral politics, we have to consider the larger winnability factor to counter the opposition. While we understand the anger of our loyalists, we cannot overlook the challenges ahead, with the civic elections in 2017.” Darekar and Singh are expected to deliver results during the BMC elections.