Just as the BJP and the Shiv Sena alliance in the state was hit by rebellion, confusion continued to prevail in the Opposition ranks as well. Till Friday evening, even while the nomination round closed, a formal announcement regarding the Opposition’s alliance was yet to happen.
Further, even as the Congress and the NCP had earlier announced that they would each contest 125 seats leaving 38 for smaller allies, the Congress ended up declaring candidates for 147 seats in all, assuming the big brother status in the alliance.
The NCP has so far declared only 97 names, but sources in the party said that the party had nominated 124 candidates in all. Both the Congress and the NCP list included nominations of some smaller allies who have agreed to contest on the symbol of the two parties.
While both the Congress and the NCP had earlier agreed to leave three seats (Mankhurd-Shivajinagar, Aurangabad (East), and Bhiwandi (East) — for the Samajwadi Party, the Congress, on Friday, fielded its own candidate, Santosh Shetty, from the seat angering its smaller ally. Raees Shaikh, SP’s candidate for the seat, said, “This is the handiwork of certain jealous people.” Casting aspersions on the Congress’s candidature, Shaikh, a sitting corporator in the Mumbai municipality, alleged that Congress’s nominee had an BJP-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh background.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will contest four seats — Solapur Central, Kalwan, Nashik (West), Dahanu. Of these, the Congress-NCP alliance has backed their candidature in the last two seats, while the alliance will hold a “friendly” fight against the CPI(M) nominees in the remaining two places.
The Bahujan Vikas Aghadi will contest three seats, the Peoples Republican Party two, while the Swabhimaani Shetkari Sanghthana will contest two seats in the alliance. While the Peasants and Workers Party has also announced its support to the alliance, the Congress-NCP candidates will be involved in “friendly” contests in seats it is contesting.
On the final day of nomination, there was hectic activity in the Opposition camp, with the constituents of the alliance still trying to iron out differences. Also, the Congress changed four of its candidates, while the NCP was forced to go on a mad-hunt for a candidate in Shrigonda (North Maharashtra) after its original nominee, Rahul Jagtap, a sitting legislator, refused to file nomination. Another NCP local leader also turned down the offer, forcing the party to opt for a candidate who has been associated with the saffron alliance in the past. The party’s original nominee in the neighbouring Nevasa assembly constituency also refused to file nomination.