In a surprising move, the BJP fielded former Congress leader Ranjitsinh Naik Nimbalkar from the Madha Lok Sabha seat in western Maharashtra on Friday. The party was expected to field Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil — son of senior NCP leader and Madha MP Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil — who had joined the BJP a few days ago.
After Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil, a former Rajya Sabha member quit the NCP and joined the BJP, it was widely believed that he did so as he wanted to contest from Madha. The NCP had refused to field him as the party was in favour of renominating Vijaysinh.
Madha had also been in the news as there was speculation about Sharad Pawar contesting the Lok Saha elections from the constituency, before the NCP chief quit the race. The incident, however, had brought differences between the senior leaders of the NCP and the Mohite-Patils out in the open.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar had said Vijaysinh refused to take calls from senior NCP leaders, forcing the party to field Sanjay Shinde, who headed the BJP-led Solapur Zilla Parishad.
It was NCP chief Sharad Pawar who convinced Shinde to contest from Madha. BJP had also offered him the ticket, but he refused.
The BJP’s candidate, Nimbalkar, was earlier the chief of the Congress’s Satara district unit. Son of former Shiv Sena MP Hindurao Nimbalkar, he had joined the BJP only a few days ago.
BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said on Friday that the Mohite-Patils were not keen on contesting the Lok Sabha elections. “They said they wanted to contest the assembly elections,” said Bhandari.
Pawar had relinquished the Baramati seat, from where he had won for decades, for his daughter Supriya Sule in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. He had contested and won the Lok Sabha elections from Madha that year. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil had won the seat for the NCP.