Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Narayan Rane, who lost the Assembly bypoll five months ago, is looking at entering the electoral fray yet again this year.
Senior sources in the Congress said the Konkan strongman is in the reckoning for the legislative council poll from Mumbai local self-government constituency, scheduled in December.
After his defeat in the Bandra (East) Assembly bypoll in April, Rane has been trying to remain relevant in state politics. The former CM had suffered an electoral setback in his pocketborough Sindhudurg in last year’s Assembly elections.
Sitting MLC from the constituency Ashok Jagtap, and former Maharashtra minister Baba Siddique, are also being considered for a Congress nomination, sources said. Party insiders conceded that Rane had the strongest credentials among the trio.
Elections to two council seats from Mumbai will be held in December. The seats were won by Shiv Sena and the Congress the last time.
The Shiv Sena is almost certain of securing a seat this time. The party has 88 elected corporators in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), and needs 75 votes for a win. Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra minister Ramdas Kadam was elected the last time.
The second seat is expected to witness a fight between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Of the 227 electoral wards in the BMC, the Congress controls 51 and the BJP represents 31. The present strength of the BMC house, however, has come down to 224, with three corporators facing disqualification proceedings.
To win, Congress may need the support of Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena that has 28 corporators in BMC. Support from estranged ally Nationalist Congress Party, whose strength in the BMC is down to 13, won’t save the day for the Congress. The BJP would be looking at Shiv Sena support. In the last MLC poll, some Shiv Sena corporators are believed to have voted for the Congress resulting in the BJP candidate’s defeat. The elections are held by secret ballot. Congress insiders said that Rane’s closeness to MNS leader Raj Thackeray could be exploited for a win.