HomePoliticsShiv Sena snubs Sambhajiraje for RS polls, fields its Kolhapur chief Sanjay...

Shiv Sena snubs Sambhajiraje for RS polls, fields its Kolhapur chief Sanjay Pawar for sixth seat

Sena had insisted Sambhajiraje contest on party symbol; the Kolhapur royal, however, remained firm on contesting as an Independent

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Mumbai: With Kolhapur royal Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati firmly declining the Shiv Sena offer to join the party and contest as a Rajya Sabha (RS) candidate, the Sena on Tuesday said it was fielding its Kolhapur district president Sanjay Pawar as its second candidate for the sixth RS seat in Maharashtra. The Kolhapur royal was firm on contesting the ensuing polls as an all-party consensus Independent candidate.

Sena MP and chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut said that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had made the decision to give Sanjay Pawar a chance and that a formal announcement would be made soon. 

Raut disclosed, “Sanjay Pawar’s name has been finalized by CM Uddhav Thackeray and will be officially announced soon… He (Sanjay Pawar) is a loyal ‘Mavla’ (historical name of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s soldiers) and the CM has taken the decision to field him.”  

Of the 57 RS seats across India going to polls on June 10, six are from Maharashtra. Going by the respective numerical strength of the major parties in the State, the opposition BJP -which is numerically the single-largest party (with 106 seats) is set to get two seats, while the three ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition parties – the Shiv Sena (56 seats), the NCP (53) and Congress (44 seats) – are set to get one seat each.   

Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, an influential Maratha community leader and a direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, had earlier this month announced his decision to contest the RS election as an Independent after his term as a President-nominated MP ended. He had appealed to all parties to back him with NCP chief Sharad Pawar being the first to announce his support for the Kolhapur royal. 

However, the Shiv Sena – the NCP’s ally – soon staked claim on the sixth seat, thus undercutting Sambhajiraje’s chances. While Sambhajiraje later held parleys with Chief Minister Thackeray and had expressed confidence that the CM would support him, he remained adamant on contesting as an independent while the Sena remained firm that the royal must contest as a Sena candidate. 

The NCP later said it would support whichever candidate – be it Sambhajiraje or anyone else – selected by the Sena as a quid pro quo given that the Sena had similarly helped the NCP in a previous election.  

Accordingly, the Shiv Sena had proposed that Sambhajiraje formally join their party – an offer turned down by the Kolhapur Royal. 

Replying to queries, Sanjay Raut said that while the Shiv Sena had duly respected the Chhatrapati’s royal throne in their offer to Sambhajiraje, the candidate would have to be from the Sena. 

The Kolhapur royal was sent to the Upper House in 2016 with the help of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a President of India quota nominee. Despite this, Sambhajiraje has been reportedly miffed with the saffron party after Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not give him a sympathetic audience on the Maratha quota issue.  

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