The BJP today announced its Maharashtra unit vice-president Prasad Lad as its candidate for the Legislative Council bypoll slated for December 7. Soon after his candidature was announced this morning, Lad, who joined BJP last year, filed his nomination papers at Vidhan Bhawan. There was speculation till recently that BJP may field former chief minister Narayan Rane but mounting pressure from Shiv Sena to the proposal forced the party leadership to drop the plan. The bypoll is being held for the seat vacated by Rane who quit the Congress party in September. On October 1 Rane had formed a new political party called Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha, saying he would support the BJP-led NDA. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held a meeting with senior party leaders, including state unit chief Raosaheb Danve, at his official residence Varsha in south Mumbai.
Fadnavis was in Gujarat today addressing BJP campaign rallies. Congress has fielded former legislator from Solapur Dilip Mane, who filed his nomination today, to take on Lad, who was with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) earlier.
The winner will need votes of at least 145 MLAs in the 288-member Lower House. In the Assembly, the BJP has 122 members, followed by Shiv Sena (63), Congress (42), and NCP (41). Though the Congress-NCP alliance is behind the ruling combine in the Assembly in terms of number of members, MPCC chief Ashok Chavan told reporters here today that Mane will emerge victorious due to an ‘invisible arrow’. The bow and arrow is the symbol of Shiv Sena. “Sena is unhappy over issues like farmers loan waiver. It recently repeated its threat to pull out of the government. Going by the political situation, the ‘invisible arrow’ will help Congress win the poll,” Chavan said.
On November 23, senior BJP minister Chandrakant Patil met Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, ahead of the Council bypoll. The candidature of Lad, said to be close to Fadnavis, has come as a disappointment for some in the BJP who felt the party’s state unit chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari deserved the Council bypoll nomination. Fadnavis had recently said Rane would be made a cabinet minister from the BJP quota. The cabinet expansion now looks unlikely before the winter session of state legislature, beginning in Nagpur on December 11.