The Congress and NCP are set for a bitter fight as the former allies on Saturday, the last day to withdraw nominations, decided to contest legislative council polls on four out of six seats against each other.
There are 30 candidates in the fray for the six seats, elections of which will be held on November 19.
Surprisingly, candidates from all major political parties, including the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena, withdrew their nominations for Jalgaon in favour of BJP candidate Chandu Patel.
Gurumukh Jagwani, sitting MLC and a close confidante of senior BJP leader and former revenue minister Eknath Khadse, also pulled out of the race.
Talks between the allies fell through after the Congress had announced candidates for all six seats. The NCP has fielded five candidates and for Nanded, it may support Independent candidate Shyamsunder Shinde, retired IAS officer contesting against Congress’ Amar Rajurkar. Only one candidate each from both the parties withdrew their nominations on Friday.
The term of six members of the Legislative Council will end on December 5. Of them, four are from the NCP and one from the Congress and the BJP each.
Sources said the parties failed to thrash out a seat-sharing arrangement as the Congress was firm on its demand for three seats and the NCP had offered only two.
This has resulted in a face-off between the Congress and the NCP for Sangli-Satara, Yavatmal, Bhandara-Gondia and Pune seats. In Nanded, the NCP may support the Independent candidate Shinde to ensure Congress’ defeat as all political parties have decided to back him, said a senior NCP leader.
Meanwhile, all opposition parties, including the Shiv Sena, withdrew their candidates from Jalgaon. The move has been seen as kind of pact with the BJP for the polls.
Lata Chhajed from Congress, Gulabrao Deokar from NCP and Suresh Chaudhary from Sena withdrew their nominations on Friday.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik clarified that they are contesting on their own on four seats and had offered the Congress the same 4-2 formula.
“We have maintained our position by withdrawing our candidate from Jalgaon,” Malik told HT. Ashok Chavan, state Congress president, said that they had less than 50 votes in Jalgaon and the party was ready to support the NCP who was having more than 100 votes.
“The NCP pulled out its candidate from the race at the eleventh hour and there was no point for the Congress to contest polls with no strength,” Chavan said