Mallya may fly with NCP to get RS berth

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai, Jan 28 | Updated: Jan 29 2008, 04:49am hrs
A high profile and flamboyant industrialist, Vijay Mallya, who though is Kannadiga and hails from the neighbouring Karnataka, may get himself re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra. Mallya's close associate and the Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and his blue eyed boy and the civil aviation minister Praful Patel may offer Mallya the Rajya Sabha seat from the NCP quota. Elections for seven Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra are scheduled to take place in April-May this year.

Mallya has been in the limelight for the Kingfisher new year calender, his swanky yacht, plush bunglow Niladri at the Malabar Hill. Kingfisher Airline has its corporate office in the north west Mumbai. The Maharashtra would get one more politician to take up its cause in the upper house if nominated. However, Mallya's nomination may lead to a new controversy especially when Maharashtra and Karnataka have already taken quite opposite positions on the inclusion of the marathi speaking dominated Belgaum in Maharashtra.

However, analyst said NCP in particular and Maharashtra may come to Mallya's rescue as there is a Presidential rule in Karnataka. Of the seven nominees to be elected to Rajya Sabha from the Maharashtra state assembly, two each would go to Congress and NCP while the opposition Shiv Sena-BJP alliance would get three seats.

In state political circle, Mallya's association with Pawar and his close ties with Patel are well known. Though NCP sources, while talking to FE on Monday, were quite evasive about Mallya's candidature, they however, did not completely rule out the possibility. "Anything can happen as there is still a time for filing nomination," a senior NCP functionary said. On the other hand, a Congress office bearer said that Pawar can spring a surprise as he did in the past by extending support to the Bajaj Auto supremo Rahul Bajaj for the Rajya Sabha.