With fear of horse-trading and probable combined force of the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supported candidate, Narayan Rane, the former chief minister is likely to withdraw his name from the race of candidate to elect as member of Legislative Council (MLC).
The byelection is scheduled for December 7 due to a vacant seat after Rane tendered his resignation as the MLC. A BJP insider revealed that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis does not want to take a risk by fielding Rane before the Gujarat polls. Rane quit the Congress and resigned from the post of MLC on September 22 and formed a new outfit Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha (MSP). The Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced byelection and the nominations would be accepted on November 27.
Anil Parab, the Shiv Sena MLC and party secretary, said that there was an understanding between the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena to field one candidate if any sitting legislator quits the party and joins the BJP. “It was assumed that the BJP would attract legislators from other parties and hence we had decided to give a candidate by the same party and the remaining two would support him,” said Parab.
“If Rane is fielded as a candidate for bypoll, the Sena would certainly oppose him. But whether to implement the same formula as decided for MLA poll, in the MLC bypoll would be decided by Uddhav Thackeray, the party chief,” said Parab.
Ashok Chavan, Congress state president, said that he would discuss with NCP leaders a finalised strategy. Chavan agreed that there was an understanding between the Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena to field a single candidate against the BJP candidate. “Let us finalise the strategy, the candidate would be secondary issue for us,” said Chavan. Sunil Tatkare, NCP state president, said that he would be meeting Chavan on November 21.
A Congress insider said that though Rane could be a candidate, the decision would be between Fadnavis and the remaining party leaders. For Fadnavis, it will be a prestige issue and if Rane loses the bypoll, it would affect Fadnavis’ credibility and prospects in the Gujarat polls. The source said, “Rane would not contest for Dec 7 poll, instead he would contest in June-July bypoll.”
In 2018, 21 members from Upper House will retire. Though Rane was not officially stated, but it has assumption he will not contest the election. Rane was in Konkan and his cell phone was switched off. “Narayan Rane is also facing a probe by the Enforcement Directorate in multicrore money laundering operations in Avighna group headed by Kailash Agrawal and Neelam Hotel Private limited founded by Rane. The next hearing will be on November 29 and the Bombay High Court may pass the stricture that Rane should withdraw from contesting the bypoll,” sources claimed.