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High drama in Maha MLC polls heightens as opposition MVA continues to be in a fix over its Nashik candidate

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Mumbai: High drama that has gripped the January 30 Maharashtra Legislative Council polls only intensified on Monday as the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) still unclear about backing a candidate for the hotly contested Nashik division Graduates’ constituency seat.

The drama continued on the last day of withdrawal of nominations for the Teachers’ division and Graduates’ division constituencies in the Legislative Council. Counting of votes and results will be declared on February 2.

The elections to five MLC seats (two graduates’ and three teachers’ constituencies), which are slated for January 30, have again exposed the poor coordination between the three MVA coalition partners (Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Congress and Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction – UBTS) in general. The raging factionalism within the Maharashtra Congress has only heightened the drama further.

It may be recalled that the Congress was left red-faced after its chosen candidate for Nashik – three-time sitting MLC Dr. Sudhir Tambe – withdrew his nomination in defiance of the party high command’s decision last week. In a surprising move, his son, Satyajeet Tambe – a former Maharashtra Pradesh Youth Congress Committee (MPYCC) president – had announced his candidature as an Independent candidate arguing that he would seek the support of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress has already suspended Dr. Sudhir Tambe from the party and initiated an inquiry against him to ascertain why he did not fill his nomination form, the party high command. On Monday the Congress also initiated disciplinary proceedings against Satyajeet as well, sources in the Congress added.

Meanwhile, confusion continued to prevail within the MVA over declaring a candidate for the Nashik seat after Dr Tambe’s alleged ‘betrayal’. The seat, initially a preserve of the Congress, has now gone to the Thackeray camp’s kitty. On Sunday, the Shiv Sena (UBTS) announced that it was supporting Shubhangi Patil for the Nashik seat.

However, on Monday, both Patil and another candidate – Subhash Jangle – each claimed that they had the support of the Sena (UBTS) and that they were to be the MVA opposition’s candidate.

In Nagpur division Teachers constituency poll fray also, the NCP had to suspend its candidate – Satish Itkelwar – after the latter refused to withdraw his nomination (in favour of the Congress-backed candidate) on the party’s express command.

Speaking to newspersons here, senior UBTS leader Sanjay Raut remarked, “We do not want to talk about the discomfiture of the Congress in Nashik… However, every constituent party in the MVA must take a lesson from this and ensure there is better coordination in the future.”

He further said that initially, the Nagpur Teachers’ constituency had been allocated for the Sena (UBTS). But, owing to the problem created by the Tambe father-son duo, the Sena (UBTS) had to back a candidate in Nashik while the Congress would choose their candidate for Nagpur.

“Each time, such a sacrifice (over seat preference) has to be made by the Sena. However, we will not be doing this every time,” warned Raut. He however, refused to comment on Satyajeet Tambe, merely remarking that the Sena had decided to support Shubhangi Patil even as the MVA had yet to formally announce that it was throwing its weight behind her.

Incidentally, Patil, who had recently joined the BJP, had filed her nomination as an Independent candidate in the hope that her candidature would be officially backed by the saffron party.

Meanwhile, while the BJP has yet to openly express its support for Satyajeet, senior BJP leader from Nashik, Girish Mahajan, said that the party would soon make its stance clear on which candidate it was backing for the Nashik seat.

Speaking to media persons, Mahajan remarked, “The decision on this will be made by Devendra Fadnavis and our state president Chandrashekhar Bawankule…as far as Shubhangi Patil’s case is concerned, she had joined our party barely 20 days ago. We had told her not to expect a ticket. Then, she went and met Uddhav Thackeray to seek his backing. As far as we are concerned, the BJP has washed its hands off her.”


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