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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Prithviraj Chavan to return to national politics

Congress accepts NCP’s Satara seat offer, former CM Chavan to contest bypoll against Udayanraje Bhosale

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
September 28, 2019 3:30:07 am
Prithviraj Chavan to return to national politics Prithviraj Chavan

Keen to inch closer to the 55-seat mark in the Parliament, the Congress has accepted Nationalist Congress Party’s offer of contesting the Lok Sabha bypoll from Maharashtra’s Satara seat.

Senior party sources confirmed that party president Sonia Gandhi has asked former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to contest the bypoll necessitated after Udayanraje Bhosale, who had won the seat for the NCP in the Lok Sabha election, quit the party to join the BJP.

On Friday, Gandhi held a meeting with Chavan in New Delhi to convince him to contest the election. While the former CM was initially reluctant, sources confirmed that following deliberations held with Gandhi, he is now willing to contest the bypoll.

In a major jolt to the crisis-laden NCP, Udayanraje Bhosale, party’s three term MP from its pocketborough of Satara, had resigned from his Lok Sabha membership on September 13 to join the BJP. After ruling out the options of fielding himself from the constituency and also the nomination of retired bureaucrat and former Sikkim Governor Sriniwas Patil for the seat, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had approached Gandhi, offering the seat to the Congress and recommending Chavan’s name for the contest.

Prithviraj Chavan to return to national politics Udayanraje Bhosale

While Pawar and Chavan have shared an uneasy relationship for decades, the NCP patriarch has reportedly assured the Congress leadership that his party workers would work sincerely to ensure Chavan’s victory. In the 2014 assembly polls, the NCP had won four out the six assembly seats in Satara LS constituency — Wai, Koregaon, Karad North, and Satara — while Chavan himself is the sitting MLA from Karad South, and Shiv Sena controls the Patan seat.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress had bagged 52 seats, which is three short of the mark needed for the Leader of Opposition (LoP) status. The LoP is a constitution appointment and is a part of the Central Vigilance Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, and National Judicial Appointments Commission. According to parliamentary rules, the largest Opposition party in the House needs at least 10 per cent of the total strength of the Lok Sabha, or 55 seats, to be eligible for the post.

While Chavan, who was an MoS in former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office, has been active in state politics since November 2010 when he was named as the Chief Minister, sources close to him say that he has always been more comfortable on the national political scene.

If Chavan manages to win the bypoll, senior party sources said the Congress will also have a projectable face with a two-decade long parliamentary experience. “The Congress president wants Chavan to return to national politics,” said a senior leader.

After meeting the party president on Friday, Chavan flew back to his native Karad. The immediate task for him would be to convince his own local workers in his constituency, who wanted him to seek reelection from the assembly. Ironically, Chavan’s shift to the bypoll contest might also mark the return of seven-time former MLA Vilaskaka Patil Undalkar, who is likely to be Congress’s choice to replace Chavan from the assembly seat. In 2014, when Chavan had replaced him as the party candidate, Undalkar had rebelled against the party. While his son, Udaysinh Undalkar, is also politically active, Congress insiders feel that the senior Undalkar will be a better choice despite his failing health.

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