Mumbai, (The Hindu): With indications rife that the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) may approach the Shiv Sena seeking support for the Legislative Council bypoll on December 7, the BJP is taking no chances.
On Thursday, Revenue and PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil met Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. “Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Uddhavji will speak on the bypoll,” Mr. Patil told reporters after an hour-long meeting, outside Matoshri in Bandra.
The minister, however, claimed that the by-election was not the only topic taken up for discussion. “I have known Uddhavji since my days as a member of the ABVP and his association with the Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena. I am lucky that I get so much time with him.”
The bypoll was necessitated after the resignation of rebel Congress leader Narayan Rane. Mr. Rane quit the Congress in September and resigned his Council seat.
On October 1, he floated Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha, which he later said would support the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. The Chief Minister had recently said that Mr. Rane would be made a Cabinet minister. Now, with the Sena opposing Mr. Rane’s name, the BJP has decided to not make him the candidate for the bypoll.
The Congress and the NCP, this week, decided to jointly contest to spoil the BJP’s chances.
A candidate requires at least 145 votes from the 288-member Assembly to get elected. The BJP has 122 members, followed by the Sena (63), Congress (42), and the NCP (41). The Sena, Congress, and the NCP collectively have 146 votes against the BJP’s 130 (122 plus independents and smaller parties).
A BJP core committee will be meeting on Thursday night to finalise the candidate. The Opposition is likely to field an independent.
NCP state president Sunil Tatkare on Thursday announced that the opposition will fight the bypoll as a unit.
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