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Miffed with Sena, Sambhajiraje drops plan to contest Rajya Sabha polls

With Sambhajiraje backing out, BJP is now trying to push a third candidate in the fray

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
May 27, 2022 1:45:32 pm
Former Rajya Sabha MP and Maratha leader Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje addresses a press conference, at Mumbai, Friday, May 27, 2022. (PTI)

Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati on Friday announced that he will not contest Rajya Sabha polls, a decision that follows the Shiv Sena’s refusal to support his candidature as an independent candidate.

“I had an offer from the Shiv Sena for the Rajya Sabha seat but they put a condition that I should first join their party. Now this offer was unacceptable to me. I did not want to join any party…I had sought support from Sena as an independent candidate. I would like to state I have not backtracked. I have fought for my self-respect. I don’t want to compromise my self-respect,” Sambhajiraje said, addressing the media.

Sambhajiraje is the direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and great grandson of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj.

Elections for six Rajya Sabha seats in Maharashtra are scheduled on June 10 and the last day to file nominations is May 31. A candidate contesting the Rajya Sabha polls in Maharashtra requires the votes of 41 members in the state legislative assembly. There are 288 members in the state assembly – BJP 105, Shiv Sena 56, NCP 54, Congress 44 and others 29.

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With 105 seats, BJP can get its two candidates elected and was willing to transfer the surplus 23 votes to Sambhajiraje. The Maha Vikas Aghadi – Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena – had a surplus of 31 votes. Had Sena given consent to Sambhajiraje’s independent candidature, he would have made it to the Rajya Sabha.

With Sambhajiraje backing out of the race, BJP is now trying to push a third candidate in the fray. Along with its surplus 23 votes, it is trying to elicit the support of independents. “If the Centre gives us a nod, we will field the third candidate and ensure all our candidates win,” said state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil. BJP has kept the names of all its candidates under wraps but Union minister Piyush Goyal is said to be their first pick.

Of the six candidates, Congress and NCP will get one each elected to Rajya Sabha. The Shiv Sena has decided to field Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar. The NCP is considering senior leader and former Union minister Praful Patel. Congress is yet to take a final decision on its pick. Earlier, former Union minister P Chidambaram was given a Rajya Sabha berth from the state quota but whether the Congress reconsiders his name or not remains to be seen.

In 2016, Sambhajiraje’s name was proposed by BJP for a Rajya Sabha seat. His Rajya Sabha tenure ended early this month.

The Maratha Kranti Morcha, which had appealed to all parties to support Sambhajiraje, is upset. “They (Shiv Sena) should have honoured Sambhajiraje who has always worked for the oppressed and backward segments,” a senior MKM coordinator said.

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