A day after the Assembly poll verdict, both main political formations are scrambling to woo Independent MLAs. The BJP, in particular, is keen to get them on its side before power-sharing talks with ally Shiv Sena are finalised. A glance at these 13 MLAs.
The maverick Independent MLA of Badnera is better known in the region as ‘Flex Kumar’ for his penchant of putting up flex posters with his picture across the town. A three-time MLA, he is known for shifting allegiances. Deemed to be close to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at one point of time, his wife was supported by the NCP in the Lok Sabha elections from the Amravati seat, which she managed to win.
A former mayor of BJP-led Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation, Jain unseated sitting BJP MLA Narendra Mehta as an Independent from Mira-Bhayander constituency. The daughter-in-law of former MP Mithalal Jain, Jain was BJP’s election in charge in the Bhayander West region during the 2014 Lok Sabha and state polls, and also the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. She enjoys clout among old RSS activists in the region.
A close aide of Nitin Gadkari, Mahesh Baldi, also a trustee of the Gadkari-led Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, wrested the Uran seat defeating Shiv Sena’s Manohar Bhoir by a margin of 7,101 votes. While the BJP had won the seat in 2014, Baldi had rebelled after it went to the Sena during seat-sharing talks.
In the 2014 polls, Manjula Gavit was BJP’s official candidate from Dhule’s Sakri Assembly segment. With the party denying her a nomination this time, she rebelled and won the seat as an Independent.
He upset former BJP minister Eknath Khadse’s daughter Rohini from Jalgaon’s Muktainagar seat. He was heading Sena’s district unit and had unsuccessfully contested on the party’s symbol against Khadse in 2014. With the seat going to the BJP’s quota in alliance talks this time, Patil had entered the fray as an Independent.
JORGEWAR KISHOR GAJANAN
He won the Chandrapur seat, defeating a BJP candidate. Jorgewar, a Dalit, was associated with the BJP and had sought a ticket to fight the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The party, however, denied his request and he switched over to join the Sena and unsuccessfully contested the 2014 polls. He had recently joined the Congress but was denied a ticket by the party. He went on to contest as an Independent and won by a margin of over 73,000 votes.
A four-time MLA, Jaiswal had a fall out with the Sena after it denied a ticket to him from Ramtek in the run up to the Assembly elections. He then decided to contest as an Independent and went on to win the seat.
An old Shiv Sena hand, Bhondekar, who had earlier won on a Sena ticket, contested as an Independent from Bhandara, after being denied a ticket by the party.
Agarwal had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Assembly elections from Gondia constituency on a BJP ticket. The decision taken by the BJP to allot the ticket to sitting Congress MLA Gopaldas Agarwal, after he switched over to the BJP, forced Agarwal to contest as an Independent.
He is a former Shiv Sena MLA who wrested the Barshi Assembly seat. He had rebelled and joined the BJP after Shiv Sena inducted former NCP minister Dilip Sopal into the party fold. With the seat going to Shiv Sena and the latter nominating Sopal, Raut contested as an Independent this time.
After nominating Sanjay Patil as its candidate from Karmala, the NCP extended support to Sanjay Shinde’s candidature from Solapur’s Karmala. Ironically, Shinde was also the party’s Lok Sabha candidate from Madha earlier this year. Ahead of the polls, he was said to be in talks with the state BJP leadership in regard to switching sides. But with his party arch rival Vijay Sinh Mohite Patil switching allegiance to the BJP, Shinde had stayed back in the NCP.
A veteran Congressman and a former minister, Prakash Awade, who won from Ichalkaranji Assembly constituency in the October 21 elections, has surprised many when he quit Congress in September. He was heading the party in Kolhapur district at the time of his resignation. Awade’s family has a long association with the Congress. His father, Kalappa Awade, is a former MP.
RAJENDRA PATIL YADRAVKAR
In the 2014 state elections, Rajendra Patil had contested from Shirol Assembly constituency as the NCP nominee. With the seat going to the Congress’ quota this time, he had contested as an Independent. Incidentally, the NCP had extended support to his nomination.