December 10, 2021 4:03:25 am
Hours before polling for Nagpur local self-government Legislative Council seat is scheduled to begin on Friday, the Congress decided to withdraw its candidate from the fray and support an Independent nominee.
The Congress had boasted of staging a coup in the RSS-BJP stronghold 17 days ago by roping in Ravindra ‘Chotu’ Bhoyar, a swayamsevak for 35 years of his political career, and nominating him and its candidate against BJP heavyweight Chandrashekhar Bawankule. Bhoyar had cited “injustice” he faced in BJP behind him joining Congress.
On Thursday evening, the Congress threw up a surprise by announcing that Bhoyar won’t contest the poll and the party would instead support Mangesh Deshmukh, an Independent candidate and the only one left in the fray besides Bawankule.
“Congress had announced Ravindra Bhoyar as its candidate for the Nagpur self-government Legislative Council seat. But in the last leg of the election, Bhoyar is understood to have expressed his inability to fight the election. As such, the party has decided to back Independent candidate Mangesh Deshmukh,” a letter by Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) Vice-President Mohan Joshi said.
Bhoyar, however, told The Indian Express, “The mention of my inability to fight the election is incorrect. I have never said that I will be unable to fight the election. But if the party feels that my candidature will lead to splitting of Congress votes then I will stand by the party’s decision. About my purported inability, I will talk to the MPCC chief.”
He added, “I have basically been a Nagpur city-based politician and don’t have much foothold in rural parts. This may again be a decisive factor.”
The Nagaur council seat has 559 voters with numbers currently loaded in BJP’s favour. The BJP, while claiming that it will win at least 40 more votes than required, had moved its voters to far-off places like Goa, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Delhi to prevent any possible splitting of votes.
The seat is currently held by Girish Vyas of the BJP.
Bhoyar said, “In any case, I had not joined Congress with an eye on this seat. They thought that my candidature would be helpful in winning the election by splitting some votes in Congress favour. But I will remain loyal to my new party.”
Bhoyar has given his support to Deshmukh in writing. Incidentally, Deshmukh is an Independent councilor from neighbouring Mahadula Municipal Council and an erstwhile Congressman.
While city Congress president and west Nagpur MLA Vikas Thakre wasn’t available for comment, a senior party leader said, “While it is true that Bhoyar wasn’t working hard enough during campaigning and wasn’t pooling in enough resources, internal squabbles in the party are also equally responsible for this sudden turn of events. Bhoyar’s Congress entry was managed by two state ministers, Saoner Congress MLA Sunil Kedar and north Nagpur MLA Nitin Raut. Another local party heavyweight and district Congress president Rajendra Mulak was also keen for a party ticket but the two ministers were not in his favour.”
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