Maharashtra polls: BJP’s smaller allies choose lotus symbol for electionshttps://indianexpress.com/elections/maharashtra-polls-bjps-smaller-allies-choose-lotus-symbol-for-elections-6058275/

Maharashtra polls: BJP’s smaller allies choose lotus symbol for elections

Another sitting MLA from Versova, Bharati Lavekar, has filed her nomination as a BJP candidate for the second consecutive election. Lavekar belongs to Shiv Sangram Party led by Vinayak Mete.

None of the smaller allies are contesting on their own party symbols. That has meant, there are 164 candidates contesting on BJP’s lotus symbol. Shiv Sena is contesting on 124 seats.

In 2014, Rashtriya Samaj Party’s candidate Rahul Kul contested from Daund assembly constituency and won. In 2019, Kul has filed his nomination as a BJP candidate. A day after filing his nomination, he formally joined BJP on Saturday.

Another sitting MLA from Versova, Bharati Lavekar, has filed her nomination as a BJP candidate for the second consecutive election. Lavekar belongs to Shiv Sangram Party led by Vinayak Mete.

The Republican Party of India (A) has bargained for five seats from BJP for the polls. In all five seats, the candidates filed their nominations as BJP candidates. Interestingly, of the five candidates, four were chosen by the BJP with RPI(A) consent.

None of the smaller allies are contesting on their own party symbols. That has meant, there are 164 candidates contesting on BJP’s lotus symbol. Shiv Sena is contesting on 124 seats.

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RPI(A)’s Ramdas Athawale explained, “We got six candidates. Five from BJP and one from Shiv Sena. Sena fielded its candidate from Shivaji Mankhurd constituency, which was promised to our Gautam Sonawne. But Sena went ahead with fielding its candidate. So we had to withdraw. In case of BJP it’s true that they have helped us with candidates in some seats.”

In Malshiras assembly seat, RPI(A) accepted former BJP youth leader Ram Satpute as the candidate. Former NCP’s Ranjit Mohite-Patil, who recently joined BJP, was pushing the candidature of Vivek Gujar. Local candidate Uttam Jankar staked claim. To avoid conflict, BJP gave a third candidate, Ram Satpute, the ticket. He is a former BJP youth morcha vice-president.

In Pathri assembly constituency, independent candidate Mohan Fad, who wanted to join BJP, is the official candidate. On paper, Pathri is a constituency which has been claimed by RPI(A).

RSP president Mahadev Jamkar had decided to field at least two candidates on his party’s symbol. But it turned out, candidates were not keen. They wanted to join BJP.

A senior RPI(A) leader admitted, “All the candidates from smaller parties took a practical decision. None of the candidates representing RPI(A), RSP, Shiv Sangram, Ryat Kranti were willing to wreck their political future. They wanted to contest on BJP symbol.”

RPI(A) seats and candidates are as follows: Arvind Bhaladhare (Bhandara); Rajesh Pawar (Naigaon); Mohan Fad (Pathri); Digambar Agawane (Phaltan); Ram Satpute (Malshiras). Shiv Sangram’s Bharati Lovekar (Versova); RSP’s Rahul Kul (Daund); Swabhimani Party’s Nitesh Rane (Kankavli). Two former independent candidates, Bheemrao Keram (Kinwat) and Sudhakar Paricharak, are shown on paper as part of smaller allies RSP/Ryat Kranti Party. But both have filed nomination as BJP candidates.